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From Compton to Norco, pre-Rose Parade equestrians dazzle at Equestfest

A woman rides her horse during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Members of the California Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team perform during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Performers wait to enter the arena during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team from Lake View Terrace, performs during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Scripps Miramar Ranch American Saddlebred Horses performs during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Express Clydesdales team member Garrett Bouard looks out from a stable during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Members of the California Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team perform during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team from Lake View Terrace, performs during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Scripps Miramar Ranch American Saddlebred Horses gets ready to perform during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Members of the California Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team perform during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team from Lake View Terrace, performs during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

People watch horse performances during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Spectators get a chance to meet horses and performers during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

People watch horse performances during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment performs during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Spectators get a chance to meet horses and performers during the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd Annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Friday, Dec 30, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Friday afternoon brought rain now and then, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of nearly 2,700 people who gathered for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 32nd annual Equestfest at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

The day brought all of the trimmings one would expect associated with the 16 equestrian groups who will be riding in the 134th Rose Parade along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena on Monday.

A variety of horse breeds dazzled the crowd with their majesty, poise and skills. Their riders were dressed in colorful, eye-catching costumes unique to their particular group, which included the Blue Shadow Mounted, California Cowgirls and Norco drill teams, law enforcement agencies, the U. S. Marine Corps Color Guard, the New Buffalo Soldiers and the Compton Cowboys.

Read more Rose Parade coverage here

Erik Feus of Dunefin, Florida flew in a few days ago to attend Equestfest and the Rose Parade for the first time.

“My wife said, ‘Hey we should go,’” Feus said. “We have family in Pasadena. It’s a different experience. A bucket-list thing, check off the box.”

The event began with Amy Wainscott, 2023 president of the Tournament of Roses, and the Rose Queen and her Royal Court riding in a carriage pulled by Clydesdales, a familiar fixture in the annual parade.

“The horses are the origin for the parade,” Wainscott said. “We love to have them; we love to showcase them.”

During Equestfest, groups performed their best tricks, drills, dancing and roping skills.

It is an ancillary event of the many parade celebrations, which showcases the equestrian units.

“Historically speaking, the equestrian units are the lifeblood of the parade,” said Jim Ciampa, chairman of the Equestrian Committee for the Tournament of Roses. “While horses are not as prevalent from a societal standpoint as they were in the late 1800s, they still are a very, very important part of the parade’s heritage and we are pleased to honor them each year.”

Even though Jeff Little has lived in California for 35 years, he is one of the first timers to Equestfest and the parade itself.

The Inglewood resident has a friend who rides in the New Buffalo Soldiers group out of Shadow Hills and told him about Friday’s event.

“I have a 5-year-old son who likes horses,” Little said. “He’s part of the Compton Junior Equestrian program.”

As the various horses circled the arena, showing off their skills and performing tricks, the audience would explode into cheers of excitement.

Lee Ann Lambirth of West Sacramento was among the crowd.

It was her first time attending the horse show and the first time seeing the Rose Parade she plans to attend Monday.

“I’m way excited,” Lambirth said. “I’m very, very excited.

This year’s parade, themed “Turning the Corner,” reflects when it starts on Orange Grove Boulevard, 400 feet before it turns the classic, iconic corner onto Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for the 5.5-mile trek to the end.

“What’s beautiful about it is that it has so many other meanings,” Wainscott said. “As we have been traveling over the year … people tell us that turning the corner means something different to them. It might be their pursuing some sort of possibility, or they have healed from some sort of illness and what we have been going through the past couple years, they feel like they are turning the corner.”

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