The Horses of Mardi Gras

The Horses of Mardi Gras

Happy Fat Tuesday!  Though I’m not from New Orleans or “Mardi Gras” country, I really do love the holiday.  For many years, my mother in law lived in uptown New Orleans and we would visit for Mardi Gras every year.  It quickly became even more exciting than Christmas!

She would make amazing King Cakes, and we would pretty much exist on sugar and alcohol for about a week.  There was a parade almost every day, and they were within walking distance from her house.  It was absolutely fantastic.

If you’ve never experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I highly suggest you do as a bucket list kind of thing.  The parades are also surprisingly horsey, which I will share with you now!  Warning… there are a lot of photos in this post.

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Mardi Gras horses fall into some different categories.  Each parade that you see at Mardi Gras is put on by a group of people called a Krewe.  These Krewes have different names, and each parade starts off by special Krewe members throwing doubloons (special coins) to the crowd.  These members are always led on horseback.

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The horses they use to lead the parade range from lesson horses at local barns to auction horses.  Auction horses?  Yup.  Barns will go buy as many horses as they need from a not-so-great auction, make sure they’re safe for parades and use them to lead krewe members.

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It’s not a bad gig, because sometimes these auction horses will stay on as lesson horses or get rescued by barn workers.

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After the lead horses, you may see some mounted police. Sometimes they’re patrolling, and sometimes they’re giving throws!

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In addition to mounted police, you also have several different riding troops mixed in with the parade.  These are usually local, and often have matching tack and shirts and special flags.

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Some of the riding troops on the other hand, go for a more theatrical approach.  You’ll see amazing costumes – usually native american themed… but with extra glitter.

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Most of these horses were far calmer than you’d ever expect to see in a parade full of marching bands, huge floats, and loud people.  Keep in mind, the riders aren’t just riding… but also throwing beads off their horse!  It’s certainly a cool experience to participate in.  I’d love to ride in a parade one day.

Have any of y’all ever been to Mardi Gras?

* PS sorry for the funky watermarks on some of these, was testing out a new plugin!

26 thoughts on “The Horses of Mardi Gras

  1. I love your pictures!! Im currently sitting on a hotel balcony in uptown New Orleans waiting for the parades to start. It’s cold and rainy but nothing stops Mardi Gras from rolling!

  2. I grew up in NOLA, and I’ve seen the parade horses before. Those horses are frickin’ BROKE TO DEATH. There’s so much crazy during a parade, especially on Mardi Gras itself, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to ride a horse through that! Fantastic pictures of some amazing horses, thanks for sharing!

  3. I’ve only been to NOLA once and it was amazing!! Didn’t get to see all these fun horse parades though. Very cool pictures!

  4. This post made my day! I grew up in La and I so miss the parades.

    I actually had the opportunity to ride in Mardi Gras parades and other Festival parades many times while growing up. It is a wonderful experience! The atmosphere and energy is so positive, everyone is having such a good time, the horses never even think about acting up. They’re having just as good a time as we are!

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures, you made my Mardi Gras even better! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  5. I went to Mardi Gras once. It was my senior trip with my AP French IV class in high school. That said, I don’t remember any parades. 🙂

  6. Well, this kinda makes me sad I didn’t stay in NOLA for Mardi Gras! I was there a few weeks ago on a business trip and ended up staying an extra few days cause of the snow storm back here in NC. Not much was going on that week, but our last night there was right before the All Stars basketball game, so all the players were out on the town. The mounted police were patrolling on Bourbon Street and it was cool to see them!

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