Crystal Bridge, a 7-year-old horse from Severn, suspect something big is up. Owner Marie Daniels is sure of it.
Marie, 16, has scrubbed and brushed her thoroughbred, fitted him with new shoes, washed his tail and clipped his whiskers. Today she'll braid his mane.
Tomorrow, Crystal Bridge goes to Washington, to strut his stuff at the 1993 inaugural parade.
"He was excited when they put on his shoes," said Marie, an Archbishop Spalding High School junior. "He was jigging around. He wouldn't walk quietly. This horse will know Tuesday night that something is different. And when I get him up at 3:30 Wednesday, he'll know."
Still, Crystal Bridge could hardly suspect he's one of four horses -- owned by members of the St. Margarets Pony Club -- who'll carry Olympians from the U.S. Equestrian Team along the parade route.
Marie and four other club members -- Jamie Striley, 16; Stacey Kent, 20; Colleen Carlton, 20; and Kim Thomas, 16 -- were chosen from hundreds of Pony Club members statewide to lend their horses and march in front of the mounted Olympians, carrying the team's banner.
"I don't think it's hit me," said Stacey, a Towson State University junior from Glen Burnie.
"We'll be around Olympic riders," said Jamie, a Glen Burnie High School junior, who will take Domino Spot, an appaloosa, to Washington. "That's something few people can say."
The club members will rise at 3:30 tomorrow morning. They'll don formal white britches, black riding jackets, white stock ties, tall riding boots and helmets. They'll feed their horses and give them another quick brushing.
In two vans, they'll take the horses to the Prince George's Equestrian Center by 5:30 a.m., then transfer the animals to a larger van, courtesy of the Equestrian Team, for the final leg of the trip.
Club members said the prospect of appearing before President-elect Bill Clinton and the rest of the nation didn't have them half as nervous as showing their prized horses.
"I want them to do well," said Jamie.
"I know I can control myself," added Marie. "I don't know if I can control my horse. I hope he doesn't make a fool of me."
But the horses' calm natures and dependability got them chosen in the first place, said Mickey Skipper, Maryland's regional supervisor for the United States Pony Club, which teaches horsemanship and the proper care of horses.
Mr. Skipper was also asked to provide Equestrian Team members with horses during parades for the Reagan and Bush inaugurations. He chooses horses from among the 16 clubs in his region.
"I know most of the kids and horses in the region," he "We wantthem calm. We're not looking for something that will blow its mind when it hears a drum."