Whether you’re new to Osceola County or you’ve been a lifelong resident, the influence that ranching and agriculture had on building this community is obvious. Looking past the small details throughout the county, like the cowboy boots on the streets of Downtown Kissimmee, or murals of the early days on the sides of buildings in St. Cloud, many of the pioneer ranching and farming families held public office and started businesses and organizations that are still operating today – including the Silver Spurs Club.
While most organizations formed to make money, the Silver Spurs Club formed over friendship and horsemanship skills. But some examples of horsemanship aren’t exactly what you might picture… One of our favorite displays of horsemanship is known as quadrille, and it has a deep history in our club and rodeo. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the history of our quadrille team and this cherished tradition.
If you think it’s hard to find something to do nowadays, imagine what it was like back in the 1940s. Without Disney World or the concept of the Internet, there wasn’t much to do for fun in Kissimmee (ranch chores are rewarding but don’t always qualify as fun!). So on a cool Saturday night in May 1941, a group of young ranchers from across the city came together for a barbecue on the ranch of Geech and Connie Partin. Little did they realize, during their cookout, the group of ranchers would form a club that would promote both horsemanship and fellowship in Osceola County for decades to come!
When Spessard Holland became governor of Florida in January 1941, the group gained statewide publicity after riding in Holland’s inauguration parade in Tallahassee, and they ultimately formed the Silver Spurs Riding Club. While the club came together for normal social activities like picnics or barbecues, they also came up with the idea of giving quadrille – essentially square dancing on horseback – a shot.
The quadrille on horseback is done to music with eight couples and 16 horses. Among the eight couples, there is a lead couple who are the most experienced riders among the group. The rest of the riders are then paired up based on having a more experienced, older rider with a younger, newer quadrille rider. This is done to not only ensure that the younger ones stay safe during the performance, but also to make sure they are learning all the moves so that they can teach future quadrille riders. As the music plays, the riders execute traditional moves in square dancing except while riding horses. Some of the dance moves you’ll see during the quadrille are horses running at high speeds (sometimes with only inches separating them from one another) while performing criss-crossing patterns and figure eights.