Symbol of our fallen

Published 11:13 am Friday, May 23, 2014

It’s one of the more revered equine-related traditions not part of the Triple Crown.

A riderless horse is often featured in military parades to symbolize fallen soldiers and on Thursday students at Ironton Middle School got to know why Powerful Time, a 12-year old 1,200-pound American quarter horse, will lead the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade for the fifth time on Monday.

“It’s very important the students learn this,” Dean Nance, Ironton schools superintendent, said. “Their books are turned in, their lockers are cleaned out and right here in Ironton is the longest-running Memorial Day Parade in America and this horse will be the first thing people see.”

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The horse, also known as Cruizer, took over parade-leading duties from The Bud Light after he suffered an injury at a horse show. Cruizer is one of six different Staley family horses used to lead the parade since 1972. Twister, who led the parade for 20 years, retired in 2000.

“The one reason we have this is to remember those who died in battle,” Dee Ann Staley-Best, from Silver Dollar Quarter Horses in Kitts Hill, said. “The riderless horse is the meaning of everything the parade stands for.”

The riderless horse is always black or brown, Staley-Best told the students, never white.

“It’s a very serious and solemn moment,” she said. “The horse is supposed to represent that.”

Cruizer will be draped in a black cloth with boots in stirrups facing backward to symbolize watching over the troops.

Stuart Scott, in his first time, will become the 42nd person overall to lead the riderless horse through the parade.