Make way for the Painted Pony Parade |

Make way for the Painted Pony Parade

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Horses of a different color will parade the streets this Saturday in Silver Creek.

It’s an old tradition in Native American culture, according to Rebecca Eaton, the chief organizer of the event. An Indian warhorse, highly regarded by its American Indian owner, was honored and protected by tribal symbols written in paint on its body.

The horses that will be painted in non-toxic, water-based paints for "The Painted Pony Party" are not preparing for war, but funds contributed during the day-long event will help to support a noble fight. Monies raised will benefit the Utah Animal Adoption Center’s horse rescue program.

"Last year I decided I wanted to have a horse parade and potluck," Eaton said. "I thought, if we do it, let’s have the money go to the Utah Animal Adoption Center."

Eaton is a longtime competitive horse rider and practices the art of dressage. Her husband, former seven-foot-four-inch Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton, enjoys trail rides on his horse, Two Ton "Tim" Diesel. Tim and Mark can literally see eye-to-eye, according to Rebecca.

The husband and wife previously raised $11,000 for Utah’s horse rescue program this winter in response to the state’s rising rate of abandoned horses.

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"I know a lot of horses in auction can end up in the glue factory or get put down I’m always reading about it in the news," explained Rebecca Eaton. "What happens is a lot of people lose interest or can’t afford to care for their horses, and they get abandoned in fields."

Misti Seppi, the program coordinator for the Utah Animal Adoption Center’s horse rescue program, says Utah ranks as one of the top five states in the country for its number of horses per capita. She estimates roughly 2,000 Utah horses a year are sent to slaughter in Canada.

"If you look at what’s going on with development pastures are being turned into subdivisions — and at the rising price of hay, there are a lot of people who are completely unprepared to deal with an animal that will cost $1,000 a year and is going to live to be 35 years old," Seppi said.

Yet it has only been four years since the Utah Animal Adoption Center expanded its mission to include horse rescue. Staff for the division are all unpaid volunteers.

Before horses enter new homes, they are examined and treated for any medical issues they might have.

Seppi says she voluntarily re-trains the abandoned horses. Those who take in foster horses need only give them "TLC" the Utah Animal Adoption Center pays for food and care, according to Seppi. Thus far, the program has rescued 100 horses.

Seppi currently houses three foster horses at her home in Silver Creek. She says there are currently 40 horses at various homes in Utah.

Saturday, Painted Pony Parade riders will register their painted horses beginning at 9 a.m. at the Mountain Life Church. The two-hour parade will begin an hour later, up Long Rifle Road and through the hills above Silver Creek.

The best perch to watch the painted ponies? Anywhere along Long Rifle Road and Wasatch Way, according to Rebecca Eaton.

For more information about the Utah Animal Adoption Center, visit

Who: Rebecca and Marc Eaton’s event for Utah Horse Rescue and Adoption; Flint Decker will emcee

What: The Painted Pony Party will feature a painted horse parade, a ceramic horse raffle, trail rides, horse sketching lessons, horse massage therapy lessons, a pet psychic Julie Morgan and a potluck lunch and award ceremony

Where: Mountain Life Church at 7375 N. Silver Creek Road, Park City

When: The Painted Pony Parade begins at 10 a.m.