Julie Suhr is truly a legend in the equestrian world of long-distance riding. Even though the route on 1 January 2016, was five and a half miles and not 100 miles, the effort was herculean for the 91-year-old Suhr. A veteran endurance rider and owner of 22 Tevis Cup Ride buckles (100 miles) and 3 Haggin Cup (Best Condition) Awards, this ride through the streets of Pasadena in the 127th New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Parade may have been one of her proudest moments.
Julie’s daughter, Barbara White, gives the account as told by her mother:
“To all. I need to share my thoughts concerning the Rose Parade and my deep felt gratitude to the many who have made a tired old heart soar.
First of all to Rushcreek Aubie and Anna Wolfe, without whom I would have been sitting home watching it all on TV rather than making it one of the heartfelt memories of a lifetime. Aubie and I did the Los Gatos Christmas Parade together and I knew from the start I was on good hooves. And so it was at the Rose Parade. Our practices at LAEC went beautifully and I felt safe and secure as I rubbed the acupuncture points at her withers and told her we could do this. She sort of replied ‘no problem’.
I was the pressured one who knew, unlike the Tevis Cup where if you blow it is only affecting you, but at the Rose Parade if you blow it, it reflects on all the others in the group. We lined up beautifully as the floats and bands went by and our turn to be entered into the parade approached. The Stanford Band was directly in front of us and they are rather renowned for their wildly unorthodox approach which include some really wacky maneuvers. Aubie did not feel they had all their marbles but she had her buddies Gayle Pena and stablemate Dolly right behind her at whom she would glance to be sure they were okay. My friend Lori Oleson would come beside her and we would march ahead with a no big deal attitude which gave me all the confidence I was otherwise lacking. She never stumbled, shied, or did anything to scare me. I had joked with Anna that at the end of the Parade we would toss a coin to see which one of us would take her home. Gayle grabbed her and I knew that my corrals would never hold my new BFF.
To thank individually the people who gave me a New Year’s Day beyond compare would take a book. You know who you are and I am blessed to have had you in my life.” Julie
A word on the Standford band placement by Barbara White: “Mom was Stanford class of 1946 which is kind of interesting because the band was directly in front of them. If you know anything about the Stanford Band you know that is not a good entry to proceed Arabian horses.”
Lori Oleson said, “We were immediately in front of the Stanford Cardinals Marching Band, except they don’t really march. We were already in line when the band came in at a run, jumping and spinning.”
Suhr is a member of the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) which had 23 horses and riders that lined up in the Parade, and she was one of four legendary riders that participated in the ride. The others were Connie Creech, Karen Chaton and John Parke.
The ride day began at 4:30 am and rigs and riders were in line waiting to begin by 8:30 am. Riders were groomed and parade-ready and horses were shiny clean including hoof black, and were decorated with flowers. The horses loved eating the flowers.
John Parke’s Icelandic, Remington, with over 11,000 AERC endurance competition miles all over the country, refused to be in the parade and wanted nothing to do with the floats. He was allowed his opinion.
Gayle Pena was the Parade Marshal and much appreciated.
Barbara White has 33 Tevis buckles.
Thanks to the endurance riders of the Rose Parade for their love of riding, and for help with this report.