CULVER, Ind. — Indiana will be represented in Wednesday's virtual presidential inauguration parade by horse mounted units from Culver Academies.
The "Parade Across America" on Jan. 20 at 3:15 p.m. ET features performances in communities in all 56 states and territories.
Culver’s participation in presidential inaugurations dates back to 1913, when the Black Horse Troop served as the official escort for Vice President Thomas Marshall during Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parade.
Culver Academies has participated in every inauguration parade since 1957 with the exception of 1993, when the boarding school in Marshall County was not invited to President Clinton's inauguration.
Zionsville's Cassie Kaplan had never been around horses much until she came to Culver Academies four years ago. Now she's part of the Equestriennes for girls, which joins the Black Horse Troop for boys, to march in the Biden-Harris inauguration parade.
"The Equestriennes and the Black Horse Troop really pride themselves on spacing and being able to all stay in a formation,” Kaplan said. “Sort of when you see soldiers marching, they stay in line and they are what we call "cover down," which means that in a line they're all right behind each other."
"The reason we have these horses is to teach leadership, using the horse as a tool for that leadership, because you use incorrect leadership or correct leadership you get immediate feedback," said Mark Waller, Culver Academies' horsemanship program director.
Carly Chandler from Indianapolis is a co-captain of the Equestriennes.
"This is my escape,” Chandler said. “I kind of forget about everything that stresses me out when I'm here, and I can really just connect with the horse."
Culver students have traveled to Washington, D.C. for 17 previous inaugurations. The coronavirus pandemic made this year's parade virtual.
"I feel like more people will be able to attend virtually, which is even more of an honor because the in-person event has limited attendance," Kaplan said. "Being able to do it virtual means that people all over the country and all over the world will still be able to attend and watch this peaceful transition."
Culver Academies is in northern Indiana, sitting on Lake Maxinkuckee in Marshall County. They submitted a video of their horse mounted units marching in formation across campus.
"They are ready to go," Waller said. "We've been practicing since October four times a week. I'm absolutely thrilled."
Twenty-two girls and 55 boys from 14 states and six countries celebrate democracy on horseback.
"I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity,” Chandler said. "It's something amazing and completely unique that I would never get anywhere else. And I'm so excited to represent my school in front of the whole country."