Horse, of course: Parade puts breeds big and small on display at The Great Frederick Fair

·3 min read

Sep. 23—Allie Embrey, 12, perched atop Sammy the horse, riding sidesaddle around the ring.

The Middletown resident has been riding since she was 5, but got into the sidesaddle about two years ago. She was among those participating in the Horse Breeds Parade at The Great Frederick Fair Thursday afternoon.

Sammy, with his Clydesdale height and Thoroughbred agility, commanded attention in the ring. Allie donned a gray sidesaddle habit, black gloves, a helmet and patterned scarf. She and the horse moved as one.

"It's just fun and enjoyable," Allie said. "I feel like you could do anything."

As horses paraded into the ring, an announcer shared facts about each breed.

Allie's father, Beau Embrey, watched proudly from the sidelines, leaning on the white fence. A slightly chilly wind whipped across the fairgrounds.

Allie's love for horses started with the movie "Felicity: An American Girl Adventure." From there, she was inspired to try sidesaddle riding.

And while Thursday's parade was an educational event, Allie also has a competitive side. On Saturday, she was named grand champion in the hunter horse show competition at the fair.

Another standout at the parade was Hagerstown resident Erin Hershey, 40, and her Tennessee Walking Horse, Linus. His black coat was accented by an ornate bridle shined to perfection. Hershey sported a big belt buckle and wide-brimmed hat as she rode on a western saddle.

"He is such a good dude," Hershey said as Linus relaxed in his stall after the parade.

She has four other horses of the same breed on her farm. She is a lifelong rider.

"I've grown up loving the breed and just want everyone to be able to experience what a Tennessee Walking Horse is like," Hershey said.

The breed is versatile and has a good disposition, according to Hershey. For instance, she shows Linus competitively and takes him on trail rides.

He is also great with children. She said her niece and nephew like to ride him.

The smallest parade participants were miniature horses Velvet and Banner. Walkersville resident Wendy Plank escorted Velvet, a nearly all black horse that wore a sparkly halter. Plank's sister, Melissa Clabaugh, led Banner.

Plank darted in and out of the ring to feature multiple breeds. She has 12 horses at Autumn Winds Farm.

Her family has been bringing horses to The Great Frederick Fair for roughly 15 years.

"Maryland has a big horse industry," Plank said, and she enjoys helping educate the public.

Plank also brought Buddy the Mexican Quarter Horse to the fair — a breed she suspected others would not have. His palomino coat stood out against the black- and bay-colored horses in the lineup. Buddy also has a birthmark on his neck that makes parts of his coat appear white.

"He's very sweet, very quiet," Plank said.

Buddy hails from Texas. Plank got him for her grandchildren to ride.

Plank patted Buddy affectionately as she praised him.

"He's a super horse," Plank said. "I just love him."

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller