Today was the Nevada Day Parade! Sage and I rode with the Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, and carried the Nevada state flag. It was a loooong day and started early. I was at the barn at 6:30 am to feed Sage, and then we got picked up at 7 am to head to Carson City. While we were saddling up the hot air balloons passed very low over us. I was so scared that Sage was going to spook at the sight of them. But he just stared at them curiously and then went back to the hay bag. We rode from the end of the route to the beginning for staging. That was an adventure full of narrow and crowded streets, cars that drove too fast next to us, floats, costumed people, and loud music! Again, I was nervous, but Sage just quietly navigated the chaos.
We got to our staging area and had to wait about two hours to get in the parade because we were entry 153 out of 200! Sage busied himself by nibbling on the hay bales on our float, and we just moseyed around and waited with everyone else. All the entrants went by us, with cars and trucks, floats and marchers, but Sage just took it all in stride. At one point someone pointed out that it looked like he fell asleep!
Finally the moment arrived to step out into the parade. In front were our banner carriers, and then us in the honor guard. Sage and I carried the Nevada flag in the middle, and we were flanked by the American flag, and a Civil War flag (carried by a Buffalo Soldier reenactor!) We were followed by about 16 other riders and horses - all mustangs. When we stepped out onto the main street, I saw miles of road ahead of us lined by thousands of people! I was so scared! I just forced myself to smile and look confident. We walked down Carson Street to cheering and clapping people, and Sage stayed calm and quiet the whole time -- as if this was his millionth parade and not his first!
It was only a mile and a half parade route, but it seemed like it took forever! We passed several announcer stages, and The Nevada Discovery Ride got mentioned by name at every stop!
I am so proud of Sage! I was a nervous wreck imagining the worst, but Sage just took all the chaos in stride. He truly is a testament to mustangs and how capable they are. If I had any worries about how he'd be on the Nevada Discovery Ride, they are definitely gone now. I can't think of anything more stressful on a horse, that tests their training like this parade. Very nervewracking for me, but very fun. I'm so honored we were asked to participate and carry the Nevada flag. I hope we were a good representative of the Silver State!
I guess I've had a burst of inspiration the last two days, because I have been working around the clock! We're on Facebook now, so that we can do small updates consistently for people who aren't coming here to the website on a regular basis. Plus, it's just a great way to get the ride out there to more people.
I've also been busy emailing dozens of mustang trainers and adoption centers around the country, asking their permission to add their link and information to the "Adopt A Mustang" page. I've got quite a list growing now, broken up by state. Ideally, I'd like the have the most complete listing of mustang adoption resources available online! Something that can continue to exist, even after the ride is finished.
And this morning, I've spent the last couple hours researching outdoor, travel, adventure, and horse magazines! So far I've got a list of 35 different publications that I want to send press releases to about the ride. Hopefully, a few will pick up on the story and we'll have an even bigger audience to get thinking about mustangs.
Lately I've been mulling over the wild horse adoption issue, and I really think the East Coast is an untapped market. When I was 18, I was riding at a barn in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. I remember a boarder there had a mustang. I don't remember now where she got him or even if he was born in the wild. I just remember everyone was in awe! We had never even seen a mustang, and here was one that was not only trained, but rideable! At the time, the idea of owning a wild horse was something I couldn't even conceive. I didn't know about the BLM's adoption program. I'd never seen anyone else who owned one. Mustangs seemed like something relegated only to the mythical land of the West!
My point is, I don't know that much has changed since then on the East Coast. Here in Nevada, mustangs are everywhere. I know tons of people who own them. They're for sale on Craigslist, the prison auction is four times a year, they're in parades, they're on the news... they're everywhere! It's not rare or unusual for someone to have a mustang here - the market is saturated with them. But I think mustangs are still a novelty on the East Coast. So maybe that's where the adoption focus should turn. Maybe there's someone in Vermont or South Carolina who would adopt a mustang, but has never had the opportunity! We need to get more mustangs out there where people can see them and what they do. Host some mustang shows and adoption events in places where people will come because they've never seen them before! And short of that, educating people about adoption resources near them. A mustang ranch in Maine?! Crazy, but true! Tennessee too! People need to know about those places, and the BLM's internet adoption program.
I don't know how to spur all that into action. I hope that our ride can do something, especially if our story can get picked up by one of those national magazines. Maybe Sage and I need to head east after our big ride. Then I can be that girl at the barn with the mustang...
You'll notice I added a little slide show to the main page with some of the pictures from last week's photo shoot. I think they turned out really great! Sage is a pro with the flag now, and I am starting to feel very confident about the parade. Although I still don't know what I'm going to wear... Eeep! Better get to the store!
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.