Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wells Fargo Stagecoach Horse Returns from Splint Bone Fracture for Rose Parade Appearance

The off leader of this four-horse hitch recovered from a fractured splint bone following treatment at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and will be leading the first six-horse hitch to pull the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California next weekend. (US Department of Defense image by SSG Teddy Wade)

Nothing on television offers as many horses or as many different types of horses as the annual Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California. As a buildup to the Rose Bowl Tournament college football championship later in the day, the parade is a festival in itself, and has always featured two things: floats covered with flowers and horses!

Plan to give a little cheer when one horse comes into sight.

This year's parade features no less than 20 equestrian units, from the tiniest miniature therapy horses to the biggest Budweiser Clydesdales. About 400 horses will be coming from all over the country to take part.

But one of them will be there against the odds.

When you watch the parade, keep an eye out for the Wells Fargo stagecoach. It will be pulled by six Belgian-Quarter Horse crossbreds, and this will be the first time that Wells Fargo has used six horses in the parade.

The six all look pretty much alike, but one of them, the off leader, has a great story behind him.

Here's an interview with someone who helped make it all possible:

Rusty will be marching in the parade on a leg that he broke three years ago. His recovery even surprised the veterinarians who worked on him at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Athens, Georgia. A few hours later, the University of Georgia will play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

Rusty is owned by David Helmuth of Milledgeville, Georgia. He was set to be in a parade in Savannah, Georgia in 2014 when one of the other horses kicked him in his lower leg.

 It didn’t appear serious at the time, but the next morning Rusty's leg was very swollen. David contacted his local veterinarian, who referred them to the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Rusty was ready to go hours before the Rose Parade, when his hooves were inspected by farrier Ada Gates Patton of Pasadena, the Rose Bowl's longtime hoof inspector. Each horse in the parade has its hooves inspected to make sure it is barefoot or properly shod for safety on the pavement. (Photo courtesy of Ada Gates Patton)

Once in Athens, Rusty's veterinary team determined that extensive medical care and surgery would be required to treat the injury, and the prognosis wasn’t great. David was told that it was possible that Rusty may never be sound again.

“In Rusty’s case, he was very lame--almost non-weight-bearing lame, where he couldn’t put weight on that leg,” said Eric Mueller, chief medical officer of the veterinary teaching hospital at UGA and part of the team that treated Rusty. “Initially we probably would have given him about a 50-50 chance because of the size of the horse, the location of the wound, and the severity of the lameness.

Despite the risks, David decided to go ahead with the surgery. Rusty came through with flying colors thanks to the dedicated team at the VTH and now, three years later, Rusty can boast a 100% recovery. He hasn’t been lame a day since the surgery.

• • • • •

The Wells Fargo stagecoach is an emblem of American history. In the late 1800s and early 1900s,  Wells Fargo ran the largest stagecoach empire in the world in order to deliver its strongboxes of cash and certificates from outposts of civilization to the banking capitals of America. Their preferred vehicle was an Abbott and Downing "Concord Coach", built in Concord, New Hampshire, and pulled by six horses. Wells Fargo was also the parent company of the Pony Express.

These horse units participated in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade along with the Wells Fargo team and stagecoach:
  • 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment (Fort Hood, Texas)
  • Broken Horn Ropers (Baldwin Park, California)
  • Budweiser Clydesdales (St. Louis, Missouri)
  • California Highway Patrol Mounted Patrol Unit (Sacramento, California)
  • Long Beach Mounted Police (Long Beach, California)
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Mounted Enforcement Detail (Los Angeles, California)
  • The Los Angeles Police Department Metropolitan Division Mounted Platoon, Honor Guard, Bagpipe & Drum Band (Los Angeles, California)
  • Los Hermanos BaƱuelos Charro Team (Altadena, California)
  • Mane Attraction Equestrian Drill Team (Riverside, California)
  • Mini Therapy Horses (Calabasas, California)
  • The New Buffalo Soldiers (Shadow Hills, California)
  • The Norco Cowgirls & The Little Miss Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Teams (Norco, California)
  • Ramona - California’s Official Outdoor Play (Hemet, California)
  • Scripps Miramar Ranch (San Diego, California)
  • So Cal Mini Horse Sanctuary, Inc. (Hemet, California)
  • Spirit of the West Riders (Leona Valley, California)
  • United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard (Barstow, California)
  • The Valley Center Vaqueros (Valley Center, California)
  • The Valley Hunt Club (Pasadena, California)
Wells Fargo also hosted EquestFest at The Los Angeles Equestrian Center on December 29 to celebrate all the horse units (and horses) in the parade.
--Fran Jurga

Thanks to the University of Georgia for background on this article.

Wells Fargo corporate history site

From Post Parade to Rose Parade: Ada Gates is Underfoot as Pasadena's Official Rose Bowl Parade Horseshoe Safety Inspector

Former Debutante makes career shoeing Rose Parade horses 

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