WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVQ) – Look closely on Inauguration Day and you’ll see an Asbury University-trained horse in the Inaugural Parade on Friday.
Bojangles, a service horse trained by Asbury student Mary-Courtney Gaddini ’18 through Asbury’s Service Mount Training Program, will escort the President of the United States as the lead horse in the world-renowned Culver Academies Black Horse Troop.
A student-driven program, Asbury’s Service Mount Training Program has trained horses for service work since 2001. It’s an incredible opportunity for Asbury Equine Studies students to earn training experience, and judging by the results, it’s a great opportunity for the horses too.
Asbury service mounts are serving all over North America, from San Francisco to Nova Scotia. On Friday, Bojangles — who was known as Gallant Victor at Asbury — will lead a troop with more than 100 years of history.
“To have the lead horse in the Inaugural Parade is very special for Asbury University, for the Equine Program and for our student trainers,” said Prof. Harold Rainwater, director of Asbury’s Equine Center. “He’s one of the younger horses they have, but he’s an amazing mammal that’s risen to the top.”
Gaddini says the Service Mount Training Program is an outstanding opportunity for Equine Studies majors to earn hands-on experience while making a difference in service programs across the U.S.
“You gain a lot of training knowledge in a low-key, supportive environment,” Gaddini said. “It’s really rewarding to watch these horses grow in their training. And when they move on to different things, like police units, or, in Victor’s case, a military school, you can see that your hard work paid off and you have a skill set you can take other places.”
Gaddini says she wishes she could be at the Inaugural Parade, but she’ll be watching on TV, keeping a sharp lookout for the horse she knows as Victor.
“When we sold him to Culver, I didn’t even know that they rode in the Inaugural Parade, or that Victor would have that chance,” Gaddini said. “When Harold sent me the email, I actually teared up a little bit. When I was working with him, he was kind of small and scraggly and not many people thought he would amount to much. But I believed in him, and selling him to Culver was one of the proudest moments of my life. And now that he’s going to be ridden in this national event, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”