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Horses parade through Charles Town

December 14, 1997

by Yvette May / staff photographer

Horses parade through Charles Town

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - With bells on their hooves and bows in their tails, 53 horses, ponies and mules wound their way along the streets of Charles Town Sunday for the second annual Christmas Parade of Horses.

"She's been in 18 Apple Harvest parades and I don't know how many others," Richard Campbell of Hedgesville said as he unsaddled Misty at the end of the two-mile parade route. Campbell is president of the Eastern Panhandle Saddle Club, one of eight groups participating in the parade.

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Along with equine entrants and clubs, the parade featured wagons, carriages and 10 individual entrants. Horses wore red and green felt antlers and Santa Claus caps, were draped with tinsel and braided with holiday ribbons.

Betsy Wells, one of the co-chairs for this year's Christmas in Historic Charles Town activities, said the idea last year of a horse parade, "just seemed like a fun thing to do."

"The word seems to be spreading," she said, noting there were about 20 more horses than in the inaugural parade.

"We have a long history of horses and horse racing in Charles Town," said Wells, noting that the first recorded horse race there took place in 1784. Fittingly, the parade formed and ended alongside Charles Town Races.

Wells said the town hosts another equine procession each May for the birthday of founder Charles Washington.

Winning the award for best group was the Panhandle Alliance for Therapeutic Horsemanship. PATH helps the physically and mentally impaired develop balance, strength, concentration and discipline through its therapeutic riding program.

Marie Galperin of Charles Town said the group was organized in 1995 and had its first riders, a group of autistic children from Tuscarora Elementary School in Martinsburg, W.Va., last year. The group has been working with three children recently, though Galperin said the riding program shuts down during the winter.

The other winners were Bryan Smith of Charles Town and Beau for Most Creative Horse and Rider; Rob Shields of Charles Town and his Peruvian Paso Festival for Best Horse; and Bill Slusher and Shiloh for Best Horse-Drawn Vehicle.

Most Creative Horse-Drawn Vehicle went to Dr. Dale Keyser and Sparky; and the award for Most Creative Group went to the Carroll Equine Clinic of Ranson.

Prizes, at least for the horses, were carrots and candy canes.

Other groups included the U.S. Trail Riders and the Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy Reserve Mounted Unit.

Denise Bramhall of the Jefferson County 4-H Saddle Club led Snow along the parade route.

"He's given many a child their first ride," Bramhall said of the pony.

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