PASADENA - If none of the 254 horses in the Rose Parade slips and falls on the five-mile route Jan. 1, equestrians can thank renowned farrier Ada Gates Patton.
The New York socialite/model/dancer/actress/cook/Bob Dylan-Janis Joplin roadie became the first and only woman licensed to shoe thoroughbred racehorses in the U.S. in 1978. And, for the last decade she's been the expert who checks the 1,000 or so shod hooves that pound Orange Grove and Colorado boulevards on New Year's Day.
"I like to say I started at the top and worked all the way to the bottom," Gates Patton joked, looking back on her trail-blazing journey.
It took her from Foxcroft School in Virginia, via Briarcliffe and Columbia colleges, majoring in dance and English, to the Broadway stage (including "Sabrina Fair" with Candice and Edgar Bergen) en route to the stables at Santa Anita Park racetrack.
"No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier