This local mounted drill team has been entertaining and giving back for 18 years and counting.
Got a parade or an event that needs a little extra equine pizzazz? Who ya gonna call? Puttin’ On The Bitz. Since 2000, this mounted drill team has been delighting spectators while performing synchronized routines to music. From opening American flag presentations to parades and themed performances, Puttin’ On The Bitz is always a crowd pleaser. “We’re like little girls who like to play dress up,” says Kathy Huff, one of the group’s charter members. “And instead of dolls, we dress up our horses, too, and play with them.”
For Fourth of July parades, both riders and horses wear red, white and blue costumes. There’s a Grease-themed routine that has everyone, and every beast, dressed up as the movie’s Pink Ladies and Thunderbirds. Beach Boys music has the group donning Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses and beach hats. Of course, considering the group’s name, there has to be a “Puttin’ On The Ritz” performance featuring top hats and tails, as well.
“People really seem to enjoy our shows,” says Huff. “We make and buy our outfits; we choreograph all our routines. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, too.” In addition to Huff, current members include Linda Woulf (captain), Josie Sokevitz, Joannie Linsey, Mare Rafferty, Joanne Crews, Hollee Crews and Hayley Waddell. This group of dedicated horsewomen, whose ages range from 15-76, practice once a week at the Williston Horseman’s Association Arena. But practice time is increased to two to three times a week leading up to an event. Puttin’ On The Bitz typically performs at five events and in five parades a year. The group is a regular at Ocali Country Days, Kirby Farm and the Heart of Florida Youth Ranch.
“We perform for exhibition, entertainment and for worthy causes,” says Huff. “We’ve ridden for breast cancer awareness at The Villages Polo Field and other fundraisers. We don’t charge nonprofits to perform. It’s our way of giving back.”
Puttin’ On The Bitz is also a Christmas parade favorite, drawing oohs and aahs, especially from children. They’ve ridden in the Ocala, Williston, Dunnellon and High Springs parades. “We have two Christmas parade outfits. One is red and green themed, including lights on us and the horses,” says Huff. “But the favorite seems to be our silver outfits, including capes. We’re all lit up, and the horses have lights in their manes and tails. People call us their white angels.” Huff adds, “We’re always open to new members and new opportunities to play dress up.”