At least 15 riders from the Western Shore Barrel Racing Club participated in the parade, then went on to The Meadows Home for Special Care on Pleasant Street to visit seniors and take part in a country Christmas evening.
Sarah LeBlanc, secretary of the 10-month-old club, owns two mares. She says the 33 members have a “massive” passion for their sport and their animals.
“We’re very supportive and encouraging of each other and their successes. As adults, we really try to encourage the younger riders because they’re going to be the barrel racers of the future.”
Clinics can start as early as February for members, with horses hauled to different locations in the province.
A clinic is usually held for the club in April at the Char-lee Horse Stables in Thomasville, Shelburne County.
The club has four shows annually and fundraises for clinician/instructor fees, professional equipment like a laser timer and barrel covers, the use of facilities and awards.
LeBlanc says the horses are particularly well suited for parades because they are used to loud noises and crowds.
“During the summer we are somewhere three out of four weekends, racing or showing at competitions,” she said.
To prepare for the Christmas parade the members strung battery-operated lights around the horses’ necks and fastened them to their manes with hair clips. Furry-looking socks with red, green and white-stripes had the toes cut out and pulled over hooves. Tinsel and bows and Santa hats were also part of the look.
“Last year so many people said how much they enjoyed it after the parade. That was our draw to go back again this year,” said LeBlanc.