Black Horse Troop for World Equestrian Games opening

July 24, 2010

Culver Academy's historic Black Horse Troop will be among more than 200 horses participating in the Opening Ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on September 25.

The Culver riding programme, which was founded in 1897, is comprised of several equestrian sports such as dressage, polo, jumping and vaulting. Its horsemanship unit began with the purchase of 16 mounts of the Cleveland National Guard's Black Horse Troop. From this, Culver formed its own all-boys Black Horse Troop, which has grown to around 90 riders.

"I am very excited Culver has been chosen," said Mark Waller, director of instruction at Culver. "I'm confident that we can really put on a good show and give a good impression of Culver's riding programme."

In 1913, the Black Horse Troop participated in the first inaugural parade of President Woodrow Wilson, and has since participated in 15 inaugural parades, including President Barack Obama's in 2009. The Troop has also escorted Queen Elizabeth II of England and participated in the Opening Ceremonies of the 11th Pan-American Games.

Culver's Horsemanship Department eventually expanded to include two more teams; the Lancers and the Equestriennes, both elite teams for honor students.

The Lancers team is made up of honors students from the Black Horse Troop, and The Equestriennes team was created for honors girls after Culver Girls Academy was formed. Lynn Rasch, assistant dean of the Girls Academy and the Equestriennes coach, said the girls are excited to be participating in the Games.

"They feel it is such an honor to be a part (of the Games)," Rasch said. "Some of the girls have ridden in the inaugural parade on a national stage and they are very excited that this will be an international stage."

Students on both of these teams must be excellent riders and exemplify good citizenship and standing in the honor system. Waller said it will more than likely be riders from these two teams that will participate in the Opening Ceremonies.

"We are putting a lot of effort and training into this," said Waller. "We want every moment we can to put on a good, professional show. We are taking it very seriously."

In the Opening Ceremonies, around 40 of Culver's riders will showcase their complex drill routines and carry flags in colour guard tradition. The Lancers and the Equestriennes will also perform in the Equine Village and Culver will have an admissions booth set up there through the duration of the Games.

"Bringing this talented group of dedicated young riders who have performed on both national and world stages complements the pageantry and attention to protocol we're planning for the Opening Ceremony," said Everett McCorvey, executive producer of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Culver Academy represents just one group performing in the Opening Ceremonies, which will include more than 200 horses. In addition to the equine component, the "human" component includes orchestra, choir, dancers, headline musicians, movement corps of hundreds of adults and children, as well as local and international celebrities and dignitaries.