OGDEN -- The Horse and Hitch parade and all other events associated with the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo next month will go on as planned and will even be enhanced, organizers say.
Nothing will be limited by an equine herpes virus type 1 scare that caused those in the horse industry to cancel events this spring, they say.
"We are hoping people from Salt Lake City will come," said Tracy Smith, director of the Ogden Pioneer Days Horse and Hitch parade.
Smith was referring to those who won't have a venue in which to perform because of the cancellation of an annual all-horse parade associated with the Days of '47 celebration in Salt Lake City that usually occurs within a few days of the Ogden Horse and Hitch parade.
Smith said he'd even accept late entries this year to accommodate all who would like to participate. The deadline to register a horse group or single entry is June 30.
Already, the Ogden event, set for July 18, is the largest horse and hitch parade in the country of which organizers are aware.
"We have over 500 horses," said Dave Halverson, Ogden Pioneer Days chairman. "We have not found another parade that is as large as ours anywhere else in the country."
Halverson said officials used to say the parade was the largest west of the Mississippi, but they have searched and have failed to find a larger one anywhere.
"I get as many questions about when's the first night of the rodeo or the 24th of July parade as I do about the Horse and Hitch parade," he said.
And it appears that it's more than an area enthusiasm for horses that makes the event so popular.
"All the things Downtown Ogden Inc., Ogden city and Ogden Pioneer Days do downtown have come together to make all the events a success," Halverson said.
Specifically regarding the parade, he said, people go downtown to see a display of porcelain horses decorated in honor of Ogden Pioneer Days or for a concert and family night the same night as the horse event and enjoy the parade and the other offerings at the same time.
Halverson said the decision to go ahead with all Ogden Pioneer Days events came with the recommendation of the Utah state veterinarian, the Ogden Pioneer Days stock contractor and members of the celebration committee.
"The state vet recommended for sure not putting off the event because of the herpes virus, because it's been contained to the cutting horse world," Smith said.
According to the Utah Department of Agriculture website, the presence of EHV-1, for which there is no known vaccination, in Utah has declined to the point that horse owners should feel free to participate in rodeos, horse shows, parades and other horse events.
"Utah veterinarians have seen no other cases of EHV-1 in horses that attended the National Cutting Horse Association's Western National Championship in Ogden, Utah, that ended May 8," states the website.
"State veterinarian Dr. Bruce King says that enough time has passed for most horses that may have been exposed to the virus traced to the Ogden horse show to have developed the disease," the site states.
"Horses that have shown symptoms of the disease will remain quarantined at their private facilities and closely monitored until it is clear the virus is no longer present."
Those interested in obtaining more information about the Horse and Hitch parade may call Smith at 801-388-3253 or visit http://ogdenpioneerdays.com/events/parades.php.
That page includes a link to the official application for the event.
All participants are treated to a free picnic in the park and Western entertainment following the parade.