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Horse lovers take to saddle for costumed Halloween ride

Jim the mule stood patiently as his owners fiddled with his ears. He was, they explained, getting his Halloween costume on.

Because covering Jim with too much material could spook him, Betsy Botchuck devised a clever way to deck Jim out without making him nervous.

"Ghosts," she said as she slipped a cone of white felt over each of Jim's big ears. The cones had black spots sewn on, so it looked as if two spirits were riding atop Jim's head.

"He did not want to dress up," said Betsy, 15. "But his ears did."

They were preparing for a Halloween horse parade through Saddlewood Estates in Quail Hollow. Equestrians from throughout the neighborhood gathered Sunday afternoon on Pimlico Way for a leisurely ride. Everyone wore a costume, including a man dressed as Zorro, a woman in camouflage fatigues and another in a pirate outfit.

John Draper wore pantyhose and a long blonde curly wig.

"I can't decide if I'm Lady Godiva or Marv Albert," he said, holding a cigar in his teeth. He waved the stogie and said, "How come a lady can't get a light around here?"

Gayle Ostovich, who organized the parade, smiled and said, "I think we created a monster."

But she and husband Greg seemed pleased at the turnout. They came up with the parade as a way to get people thinking about starting a riding club.

"This is an equestrian community; a lot of people have horses," Greg said. He wore a black sweat shirt and sweat pants, a black stocking over his head and two eyes made of Styrofoam.

"I'm a horsefly," he said. He was riding Fancy, an 11-year-old Paso Fino horse.

"She let me get on her," Greg said. "She hasn't tried to swat me off yet."

Gayle, dressed as Robin Hood's Maid Marian, wore an elegant gown spread gracefully across the back of 5-year-old Desperado. "It's an old bridesmaid costume," she said, proving that you can wear a bridesmaid dress again after the wedding.

Soon, the group was ready to clop off. Celine Draper and Chris Greene presided as "queens" of the event. They rode in a horse-drawn carriage.

"I even have my slippers on, too," Draper said as she looked down at her red shoes with gold beads.

"I'm medieval," Greene said, propping up one leather sandal-clad foot.

Alan Ryan, dressed in the gray pants, shirt and cap of a Confederate soldier, announced he had a mission.

"I'm a dispatcher," he said, "from Gen. Johnston to Gen. Lee. I've got to tell them about the great battle of Saddlewood."

_ If you have a story about Land O'Lakes or Wesley Chapel, call Jennifer Brett at 226-3452.