A Chehalis couple and their horse are about to take the national stage.
Kristin Miller, a Norway native, and her husband, Rory Miller, are preparing their 15-year-old Norwegian Fjord horse Saundra to march in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
Kristin Miller plans to ride Saundra in the Rose Parade while Rory Miller and friend Eric Watness of Seattle will drive an authentic Norwegian cart pulled by Watness’ Fjord named Sundag.
To brace Saundra for the 51/2 mile parade in front of nearly a million people, Kristin Miller said she is playing loud, chaotic music in the barn. The music is what police departments use to “de-spook” their horses, Kristin Miller said.
“She is going to be nervous, but I can trust she won’t blow up on me,” Kristin Miller said. “I don’t want to get dumped on the ground on (national TV).”
The Millers, who own three other Fjord horses along with Saundra, were invited to join in the Rose Parade by the national Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, which will host 13 horses in the Jan. 1 parade. It will be the first time in the parade’s 125-year history that Fjord horses will take part, Kristin Miller said.
“It’s a huge honor,” Kristin Miller said. “You have to apply to be in the parade and each rider and driver has to apply. The horses have to be well vetted with experienced drivers and riders.”
The Millers purchased Saundra nine years ago in Osoyoos, B.C.
Kristin Miller said Fjord horses are bred to be versatile animals. She rides her horses in English, western and dressage events, along with gaming competitions.
“They are such people-oriented horses and so smart and so fun,” Kristin Miller said. “They joke in the membership that they are like potato chips, you can’t just have one.”
Saundra, a purebred Fjord with a golden-colored coat and double-colored mane, is the alpha mare on the Miller’s Chehalis property and the one the couple trusts the most to ride in the Rose Parade.
Fjord horses are a rare breed with about 6,000 registered in the United States, Kristin Miller said.
Growing up in Norway, Kristin Miller said, she always wanted to own a Fjord horse.
“You see pictures of them and don’t even dream about it,” Kristin Miller said. “When I went back to Norway, I would see one and think it is wonderful.”
Now with four Fjord horses, an Arabian horse and a miniature horse on her property, Kristin Miller is living out a lifelong dream of spending her days riding and training her horses.
The Millers plan to leave on Christmas and drive three days to Pasadena.
The Fjord horses will be one of about 16 breeds at the parade. The Fjords will be number 79 out of 91 entries in the entire parade.
“Fortunately, we won’t have a marching band behind us,” Kristin Miller said.