Winfield riders go to Washington Paso finos to walk in inaugural parade SOUTHWEST--Mount Airy * Woodbine * Taylorsville * Winfield

January 20, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

With all the pomp surrounding Winfield-area residents Judy Gray and Naomi Durdock as they ride their paso fino horses in today's inaugural parade, it should be easy for them to feel tall in the saddle.

But since Ms. Gray is a beginning rider and Ms. Durdock is nervous about the whole thing, they'll be satisfied just to stay on their mounts.

"This is a very nerve-racking situation, but we are looking forward to a good time," said Ms. Durdock, a purchasing agent for a biotechnology firm in Gaithersburg. "We're hoping all will go well."

So far, things have been working in favor of the two women, who plan to breed "pasos." The breed comes from Spain, by way of Puerto Rico and Colombia.

Someone on the inaugural parade committee contacted a paso fino breeder in New Jersey to see if there were any horses available for today's festivities, and was referred to the two Carroll women. When the breeder, a member of the Mason-Dixon Paso Fino Association, contacted Ms. Gray and Ms. Durdock, who are also association members, it was an offer they could not refuse.

"This is our first parade. How could we say no to something like this?" said Ms. Gray, a nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Ms. Durdock is a purchasing agent for a biotechnology firm in Gaithersburg. "We're both really excited!"

Ms. Gray will be riding her gray mare, Enamorada de Ole, and Ms. Durdock will be aboard her chestnut mare, Delirio de Gaspar.

The riders won't have to worry about being uncomfortable as they parade on the streets of Washington.

According to Ms. Gray, the paso is one of the smoothest-riding horses in the world. It has special gaits that are especially easy on the rider.

She considers her breed "the ballerinas of the horse world."

"You don't bounce up and down in the saddle," Ms. Gray said. "It's like sitting in your lawn chair and moving along the trail."

The paso fino is a small breed, averaging 14 hands, or 4 feet, 8 inches, at the shoulder. Compare that with an 18- to 20-hand Clydesdale -- frequently seen in beer commercials.

"Part of the way we show the horses is just natural, no braids or anything," said Ms. Durdock, who along with Ms. Gray has been showing the horses locally for about three years. "They just have beautiful flowing manes and tails."

In the inaugural parade, Ms. Gray and Ms. Durdock will be riding the only pasos and will help to represent different regions of the country.

"In a sense we are representing Puerto Rico, since our horses are from the region and we will be riding in front of a Puerto Rican dance troupe that is performing in the parade," Ms. Gray said.

They haven't had long to prepare for their parade debut because the inauguration show committee had not been in touch with them since the initial call about a month ago.

"We just firmed things up in the last week and a half," said Ms. Durdock. "We recruited even our husbands to be the grooms for our horses."

But with the day upon them, Ms. Durdock says she hopes she can enjoy what could be the opportunity of her lifetime.

"I don't know that I've ever seen a president in person before. I hope I get a chance to at least have a look at him," said Ms. Durdock. "I may not even remember to look. I'll probably get to the end of the parade and think, 'Gee, I knew I forgot something.' "

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