Carcassonne: Equiaude Parade and Cheval en Fête (Horse Festival)

We had a great time at the Cheval en Fête (Horse Festival) today.  We watched more than 100 riders participate in the Equiaude Equestrian Parade.  The cavaliers rode from the medieval citadel of la Cité de Carcassonne, down and across du Pont Vieux (the Old Bridge), around Square Gambetta, through the streets of Carcassonne, and ending at the Hippodrome de la Fajeolle.

Equiaude Equestrian Parade passing over the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) with la Cité de Carcassonne in the background.
Equiaude Equestrian Parade passing over the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) with la Cité de Carcassonne in the background.

The participants ranged from mature to the very young.  There appeared to be several riding schools with groups of young people in matching shirts singing together as they rode.  Riders were using western saddles, dressage saddles, Australian saddles, and jumping saddles and there was a couple of horse-drawn carriages also participating.  With the municipal police taking front and rear of the procession for safety, the parade passed through town with the children happily waving to spectators.

The parade is part of a two-day equestrian competition at Carcassonne’s hippodrome.  The Equiaude Parade (Equi = equestrian, Aude = our department in France) is anticipated in Carcassonne like the annual Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive.

Equiaude Equestrian Parade
Equiaude Equestrian Parade

It was odd not to see iconic American Mustangs or Quarter Horses among the horses, but there were some beautiful Arabians and Thoroughbreds, with ponies and horse/mule hybrids for the children.  While I’ve been in a saddle fewer times than I have fingers, Tracy is a former horsewoman who explained tack and horses breds as they passed.

The part we enjoyed the most was the smiles and laughter of all the young riders as they enjoyed being the center of the attention while waving to the spectators and singing in unison.

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