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Should Horses Be Banned from Parades?

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Following Sunday's freak accident at the Bellevue Fourth of July parade that left one woman dead, 23 others injured, and an entire town reeling from the shock of such a rare incident, many are asking if horses should be allowed to continue to participate in parades.

There are few places in Iowa where you can see more horses and more people who love horses than at the monthly Kalona horse auction.

Eddie Smock is a horse auctioneer and has been around horses his entire life.

"I started riding my grandpa's old riding mare when I was three years old," Smock said. "And I've rode horses ever since."

Smock said no two horses are alike. So what spooks one, may not cause another to flinch.

"They're sort of like people," Smock said. "They're all different. What one horse will like well, maybe the next one won't."

Smock said it is important for people who are around horses to know to interact with them.

"Unintentionally they'll do something that spooks a horse when they don't intend to and then you have big time trouble," Smock said.

Smock said a horse can spook around loud noises, like fireworks, or when a child runs up to pet it. He recommends no horse should be part of parade unless it is well trained.

"You're asking a lot of a horse when you put it in a situation with a crowd of people and traffic and lights and noises," Smock said.

According to Smock, horses are unpredictable. He said the age of a horse does not matter when you are determining whether a horse is eligible to be in a parade.

Smock admits Sunday's horse trampling was sad, but it does not warrant barring horses from parades forever.

"That's not fair," Smock said. "That's like saying there shouldn't be any dogs. You know we hear where dogs bite people and some are more prone to do it so you can't say well a dog bit someone so we'll just do away with all dogs and no one can own a dog or a pet of any kind. Same thing is true with horses."

Smock urges people near horses to use caution.

"Know where you are and watch the horses and don't expect them to be like a statue that you can run up to and make a loud noise," Smock said.

Plus, Smock tells people "it doesn't make a difference if you're at a rodeo of if it's at a parade, you need to think when you're around animals if something would happen."

What, he asked, would be your safe getaway?

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