From the authentic Western costumes of Spirit of the West Riders to the glitz and glamour of stunt-riding cowgirls, the 2014 Rose Parade brought viewers a taste of the Old West and the new. Charros, an integral part of the Southern California experience, and Native Americans on Appaloosas originally developed by the Nez Perce, fill out the history of the wild—and not so wild—west.
Part 2 in a series of three takes a photographic look at these Western-themed groups. The first part can be read here, and the third here.
Each has a yarn to spin. Phil Spangenberger, gun coach to the stars, and Spirit of the West have ridden in every Rose Parade since 1992, except for 2010; The Martinez Family is making their 32nd appearance. The Norco Cowgirls have only been in the parade once before and the Calizona Appaloosa Club twice. There are two charro groups, Hermanos Bañuelos and the Martinez Family, both made up of lariat-twirling families; and two cowgirl units, Norco and All American Cowgirl Chicks.
The list attached to this article gives details and interesting facts about each entry. Follow this column for upcoming articles.
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Spirit of the West Riders
Formed in 1991 to ride in the Tournament of Roses Parade, the 16 riders represent the Western horsemen and women of the period from 1840 through the 1920s from various cultures. They state, “Every bit, bridle, saddle, right down to the stirrups and cinches are authentic to the period represented by each rider.” The group works together in films, live Wild West entertainment, and fundraising events for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Marshal Phil Spangenberger is the firearms editor for True West magazine and has coached Mel Gibson, Will Smith, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich and many others in use of firearms. Most of the mounts are Quarter Horses. Riders are Phil and Linda Spangenberger, Larry Brady, Greg Worley, Sam Gross, Rand Brooks, Rany Kramer, Brent Hudspeth, Doug Larner, Dave Houghland, Wendy Bailey, Christy Lewis, Joe and Bev Whitely, Poppy Behrens and Lori Brown.
Benny Martinez returns
In broad-brimmed hats and authentic charro uniforms dating to the 19th century Mexican War of Independence, The Martinez Family has appeared in 32 Rose Parades, from 1980-2011, and returned in 2014. Led by patriarch and professional trick rider and roper Benny Martinez—and yes, he does keep that rope going throughout the 5 ½ mile parade—the group rides “for the glory of the Most High Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Martinez Family
The 15 members, Benny and Gloria Martinez, Samuel and Samantha Alarcon, Alex Medina, Manuel Escobedo, Jody Carter, Rafael Mendez, Ramon Vargas, Salvador Arias, Ruben Haro, Nicholas Huizar, Mario Bugarin, Guillermo Guerrero and Roberto Ramirez, ride Andalusians, Friesians, Aztecas and Quarter Horses. The saddles are hand-stitched Mexican saddles with the large silver horns typical of charros and sidesaddles for the ladies. Riders come from a variety of professions, including construction company and pet store owners, disc jockeys, real estate agents, home designers and a nurse.
The Norco Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team
Hailing from “Horsetown USA,” the drill team was founded in 2008 and made its first Rose Parade appearance in 2013. The cowgirls ride Quarter Horses and American Paints, with matching pads and Dale Chavez bridals and breast collars adorned with sterling silver conchos and Swarovski crystals, and arrangements of fuchsia orchids and pink roses behind the saddles cantle. Riders are marshal Mychon Bowen and her mother Mynon Sullivan, Cristie Cremo, Jennifer Brown, Sharon Dewdney, Tyger Post, Natillie Bachetti, mother and daughter Judy and Libby Magargee, Cathey Burtt, Lynette Mooney and Lacey Clarke. They wear custom show shirts decorated with Swarovski crystals and white rodeo chaps.
Teaming up to twirl the lariat
Horse and rider work together to perform this maneuver with the lariat on the Hermanos Bañuelos Charro Team. The embroidered pants and shirts are handmade in Mexico and the United States, along with the rabbit fur charro hats and rawhide boots. Saddles were handcrafted in Zacatecas and are mesquite wood wrapped in goat skin for strength and appearance. The large horn is designed for roping cattle.
Hermanos Bañuelos Charro Team
Based in Chino, the team is composed of brothers, first cousins and close friends who are professional Mexican charros and rope trickers. They perform in shows and compete in charreria. The mission of the group is to promote horsemanship and animal welfare, and to give children and adults an opportunity to experience horses with a goal of discouraging violence, gangs, and drug use. Marshal Ramon Bañuelos rides with Heriberto, Sergio, Oscar, Demetrio and Salvador Bañuelos and Pedro Huerta, Antonio Ruiz, Antonio Jimenez, George Espinoza, Ramiro Sierra, Alex Valencia and Joaquin Raygoza.
Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club
CAHC was formed 60 years ago to celebrate the spirit of the Appaloosa and the Native Americans who developed the strain. It’s thought the breed was named after the Palouse region of the northwest US. Marshal Leslie Foxvog, Debbie Herzman and Christy Wood rode as Nez Perce ladies of society in basket hats. Handcrafted trappings and regalia are historically accurate, reflecting the native materials (elk, deer and moose hide) and European cloth and beads that the Indians traded for. Glass beads were originally introduced by Lewis and Clark.
Every rider tells a story
Each rider and horse of Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club tells a different piece of the story of the Nez Perce. Besides the society ladies, a chief, warrior, medicine woman, maiden, root digger, beadworker, storyteller, dog soldier (photo at top of article) and his wife. As part of historical accuracy, some of the saddles and accoutrements are from the US Cavalry, which would have been taken during raids, and items that were tossed from wagons as settlers came through. Besides the society ladies, riders were Paul Foxvog, Steve Wood, Evon Owens, Diane Foxvog, Stephanie Rawley, Angila Gallagher, Tisa Aley, CJ and Joe Brooks.
All American Cowgirl Chicks
Mounted on what founder and marshal Trish Lynn calls “ranch horses, castaways and misfits,” the AACC have been riding in the Rose Parade every year since 2005, turning out some of the best stunt riders and horses in the rodeo business. Part of the mission of the non-profit organization is to rebuild the trust of the horses and the confidence in each rider. The team has been nominated for “Specialty Act of the Year” by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Riders are Trish Lynn, JW Stoker, Sadie Lynn, Claire Money, Syka Trick, Sierra Cody, Baujke Willie, McKenzie Oakie, Kim Dokie and Lacy Bay; most of the horses are Quarter Horses.
Sadie Lynn rides Roman style on a team of two horses, one foot in each saddle. Costumes are red, white and blue fringed leather chaps and gloves, black and royal blue riding suits trimmed with sequins and rhinestones and hats designed by Kaci Riggs. The horses have mane and tail extensions in pink, red and blue. Most of the saddles were won by the riders in competitions. JW Stoker was a stunt double for Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Clint Eastwood. The move Cowgirls ’n Angels was based on the lives of Trish Lynn and the Cowgirl Chicks.