By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Claire Haldewang, 15, will ride her horse, Claire, in the Presidential Inaugural Parade today in Washington, D.C.
She’s one of 24 members of the Culver Girls Academy Equestriennes mounted unit riding along with the 58 members of the Culver Military Academy Black Horse Troop.
“It will definitely be an adventure of a lifetime and worth it,” Claire said last week. “This will be the best experience of my life. It’s such an honor.”
A sophomore at Culver, Claire said she’s been practicing with her horse for more than two months, which includes a two-hour block at least three days a week on her own time.
The horses and riders have been subjected to different types of noises and conditions to prepare for the parade.
“We’ve practiced with the Culver band members playing music and the Culver security vehicles using their sirens,” Claire said. “We’ve also practiced with fog machines since there can be fog on the parade route.”
Claire said the horse, has been fed plenty of treats during practices.
“It’s a lot of work to get ready,” she said. “I have been getting her mane ready to make sure it looks good and long enough to braid. On the day of the parade it will take a lot of time and work in preparing our horses and — waiting. We have to be patient.”
The parade will air on C-SPAN at 2:30 p.m.
It’s the 16th inaugural parade for the Black Horse Troop and the seventh for the Equestriennes.
The mounted unit served as the official escort for Vice President Thomas Marshall during Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parades in 1913 and 1917. Marshall was the former governor of Indiana.
Claire has been riding horses since seventh grade and tried out for the Equestriennes team as a freshman.
“I’ve always been around horses and I fell in love with them,” she said. “I love (riding) and it’s so much fun. I love animals.”
Claire said she attended Culver Summer Camps and her sister graduated from the academy in 2011.
“It’s a different place here and I love it,” she said. “I get to reach out to others. I get many more opportunities.”