Kaylene Johnson: Writer and Photojournalist

Our Perfect Wild

An unlikely couple—a wild boy and a good girl—Ray and Barbara Bane, both teachers, set off from the sooty landscape of West Virginia into the snowy panoramas of Alaska. There they make another unlikely commitment: to learn the Old Ways of the land they come to adopt—and defend. With her characteristic poise and bravery, distinguished Alaskan journalist Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan chronicles the Banes’ story of environmental gumption in the wilderness.

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--Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 and Paradise, Piece By Piece.

A Tender Distance
Adventures Raising My Sons in Alaska

May 2011 Parade of Stallions

May 3rd, 2011 by

Long before I had a horse of my own, I looked forward to the Parade of Stallions each year on Mother’s Day. I have pictures of my sons smiling in the backdrop of Pioneer Peak holding their little plastic lunch boxes with the picnic we’d packed for the afternoon. The boys often wrestled like bear cubs under the bleachers as I stood dreaming at the rail of the outdoor arena at the Palmer Fairgrounds. Now one of these sons has his own family and the other son flashes a nostalgic smile when I mention the parade. They know where I’ll be headed after church on Sunday.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Parade of Stallions, an event that showcases stallions of various breeds from across Alaska. Free and open to the public, the Parade will be held on May 8 and include a sale of horses at 11 a.m. followed by the Parade of Stallions at noon.

The Alaska Morgan Horse Association sponsors the event. Dr. Sabrieta Holland, secretary of the club and Parade organizer, says this is an opportunity for the public to see the best of Alaska’s horses.

“Stallions have an aura about them. They are a beautiful representation of our horses in Alaska and should be a representation of their breed,” Holland said. Arabians, Fresians, Morgans, Paints, Quarter horses, Shetlands, and even a miniature horse are included in this year’s lineup of stallions.

Just as in years past, the ground shakes as a team of big black percherons thunders into the arena. Bells jangle on the harnesses of these gentle giants as Jon Naumann and Pete Johnson put the horses from the Horse Drawn Carriage Company through their paces. The rhythmic thump of their enormous hooves can reach inside your chest and steal your breath away.

This is one of several demonstrations that make this an event to remember. The 2011 lineup may include a drill-team routine done on horseback. Vendors and booths also offer horse-related goods and services.

Whether it’s the first-time or the 35th time to attend, the Parade of Stallions offers an impressive display of the versatility, power, and grace of horses. For mothers, horse-lovers, and the public – it’s a superb way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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  • About Kaylene

    Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan is a long-time Alaskan who makes her home in Palmer. She has found adventure on Denali, the Chugach Mountains, and as a wrangler and cook in the Brooks Range. Her award-winning articles have appeared in Alaska magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Louisville Review and other publications. Her books include Our Perfect Wild: Ray and Barbara Bane's Journeys and the Fate of the Far North; Canyons and Ice: The Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith; A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Sons in Alaska; Trails Across Time: History of An Alaska Mountain Corridor; and Portrait of the Alaska Railroad.

    She holds a BA from Vermont College and an MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky.