Well, as often happens, it didn't go exactly as planned - but it was still a good experience for horses, ponies, and kids! I meant to be purely on the sidelines and positioned to take pictures but I wasn't able to make that happen so all I have are just a few snapshots taken just before the parade got started.
Accident number one - Ardreth's cargo of gifts (he was meant to be a delivery elf) got left behind. Note we did have the bows for his packages a few of which we stuck on the saddle blanket. #2 - His elf shoes, which worked so well on the test run at home, turned out to be very vulnerable to nervous side stepping. At home there was no side stepping so this vulnerability was undiscovered until too late. We took Ardreth, Snip pulling the wagon, and Beth on Clay as our part of the parade but we were also collaborating with Nyssa Artistic Dance where our girls take lessons so we had loads of excited kids! Enough to make even a pony that lives at our place a little antsy for a few minutes. It didn't phase Snip of course, but then, she's been through this sort of thing before! When you add in about twenty excited and rather noisy dance students things change a little for a newbie pony. If I would have just waited until a couple minutes later to put them on.... He settled down very quickly but not before he had remolded the wire frame inside the elf boots! I jerked them off the frame and fastened them around his fetlocks, (thank goodness for duct tape!).
I think he still passed with flying colors but I wish I had figured out a more resilient elf shoe! Also, (#3) his little elf/ballerina rider was without her blinking lights so he wasn't well illuminated. Oh well, Ardreth and she were still a hit based on pure cuteness.
Snip did her usual fantastic job. It was the first time I have put a blinking light on her nose; she didn't seem to notice. This was a triumphant date for LJ as she was allowed to drive Snip. She often does drive her but this is the first time she was allowed to in a parade/without an older person sitting with her directing. We did have Matt there just in case of anything going wrong but he just strolled alongside and LJ remained the driver for the duration.
Beth said she felt silly just riding her horse down the street (not standing up on her or doing any tricks or anything) and that she doesn't want to do a parade again if she isn't more prepared! Some people are born over achievers but I have to admit she isn't the only one around here. Maybe it's genetic?
Overall I think it turned out to be a good experience for kids and horses. If we repeat next year I will be better prepared so hopefully I will be able to take good pictures of the event (and remember all the props!). At any rate we appreciate (and try to maximize) the training value of everything we do, in a way we didn't in years past. It is amazing how much an increased understanding of horse psychology changes your perspective on everything you do with your horses.