Palomino History & Heritage

It's a Minion! No, it's Big Bird... wait, it's...Of course, A Golden Palomino! The Palomino horse is by far the most sought after "yellow" parade entry and has historically been the centerpiece in popular parades. Palominos are always an expected crowd pleaser at national parades such as The Rose Bowl Parade, held in Pasadena, CA. From the silver and gold adorned saddles by talented saddlemakers to how Palomino leaders still celebrate Parade Horse competition at weekend horse shows, we've got the scoop!

The Palomino - America's Parade Horse

The Golden Palomino horse has historically been synonymous with popular parades of the day. Palominos are a favorite for Shriner Horse Patrols and Sheriff Posse groups. These units were always an expected crowd pleaser at local, state and national parades such as The Rose Bowl Parade, held in Pasadena, CA.

Most units used silver parade saddles that were a mainstay for cowboy celebrities of the time. Famous saddlemakers such as Ted Flowers, Ed Bohlin, and Bruce Lovins put their hands to work to develop not only a functional saddle but a unique work of art adorned with handcrafted German Silver, Monel, Nickel, and Aluminum metals, with the golden Palomino as the canvas. Accordingly, Palomino horse shows offered Parade Classes, as well as a Fiesta Class, featuring these kinds of parade horses. Pictured on the right is from the Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena, CA.

The Palomino Horse still maintains his presence in major parades at the Rose Bowl among others. On November 6, 2016, the Palomino Horse added another parade to his list as the Grand Marshal of the 2016 Will Rogers Days Parade in Claremore, OK, commemorating Will Rogers, his contributions to the state of Oklahoma (and the nation) and to remember his Cherokee spirit who loved "Comanche", his Palomino horse. The legacy of Comanche and Will still lives strong in the hearts of people not only in Oklahoma but around the country.

On Permanent Display

Stop by the Palomino Heritage Museum in Tulsa, Okla., and experience an up-close and personal walk-through of how the Palomino horse has shaped our history on the silver screen, in competition, and down Main Street at some of America's most prominent parades. To the right is the newest addition to the museum's collection: a complete Western Parade Horse saddle set generously donated by Helen Fleming of Tupelo, Miss. To see this beautiful decorative saddle set in parades or in competition against other Palominos is one thing, but to see a complete saddle set in person is truly amazing.

Western Parade Horse Competition

The nostalgia of the Palomino Parade Horse is still celebrated today at sanctioned Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PHBA) horse shows held around the United States. The Western Parade Horse class is judged by approved PHBA judges according to the following rules set forth in the Membership handbook outlined below for your convenience.

Below excerpt taken from page 118 of the 2019 PHBA Handbook

3561. Class Divisions.

  1. If two (2) Western Parade Horse Classes are to be held at a show, it may be held as follows:
    1. Senior Western Parade Horse (six years old or older) shown with a curb bit and;
    2. Junior Western Parade Horse (five years old and under) shown with either a curb bit or bosal or snaffle bit, or;
  2. If one (1) Western Parade Horse Class is to be held at a show, it shall be Western Parade Horse All Ages:
    1. Senior horses (six years old or older) shown with a curb bit and;
    2. Junior horses (five years old and under) shown with either a curb bit or bosal or snaffle bit.

3562. Judging Emphasis. The class shall be judged:

  1. Twenty-five (25%) percent on appointments;
  2. Sixty-five (65%) percent on conformation, performance and way of going;
  3. Ten (10%) percent on manners.

3563. Class Procedure. Horses shall enter at a walk. Horses shall be shown at a walk, jog trot, parade gait (a free moving, natural trot with a definite increase in animation over the trot while remaining in complete control) and stop both ways of the ring.

  1. Entries may be required to back at the judges’ discretion.

3564. Equipment. Horses are to be shown under parade type saddle with leather tapaderos. The appropriate mounting should be made of Sterling Silver, Gold, Nickel, German Silver, Stainless Steel, Monel, or other similar metals.

  1. Other similarly appropriately mounted equipment (i.e. breastplates and hipdrops);
  2. Serapes are permitted;
  3. Horses shall not carry a flag;
  4. Decorations of ribbon, flowers, or materials suitable for a street parade may be displayed in the mane and tail with emphasis or coordination of color and overall appeal.

3565. Attire. Exhibitors shall wear attire which is colorful and typical of the Old West (American, Mexican or Spanish origin) consisting of cowboy clothing, hat and boots.

3566. Register of Merit. An ROM will be awarded in this class; however, it shall not count toward the PHBA Champion or PHBA Supreme Champion awards.

3567. High Point Award. There shall be an annual PHBA honor roll award for this class; however,

  1. Points from this class shall not count toward the PHBA year-end high point awards, or towards the 100 point novice status;
  2. APA’s shall decide whether points in this class will count toward high-point awards at their shows.

If the museum's display just isn't enough, find an approved, sanctioned PHBA horse show near you and watch these majestic golden beauties put on a show each weekend.


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Parade Saddlemakers