Chick Cerniga is perhaps known as the Arabian Horse Lady who participated in the Tournament of Roses parade every New Year’s Day.
But she is much more than that since a plaque was given to her by her friends in 2018 to help her celebrate her birthday with her husband Ray Cerniga.
“Horse trainer, veterinarian, teacher, nurse, farm manager, writer, truck driver, cancer survivor.”
Cerniga’s life, which includes his exploits with Arabian horses and much more, is now featured in an impressive exhibit in the exhibit hall of the Porterville Historical Museum. The exhibition will be at the museum starting today and will run until October 1.
The museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cerniga’s exhibit will make way for preparations for the museum’s always-impressive annual model train show, which opens the day after Thanksgiving.
Cerniga’s exhibition is also impressive with eight showcases of all his exploits with Arabian horses and all his other activities over the years. Two of these showcases include many porcelain and ceramic figurines and statues that she has created which are quite impressive. The exhibition also includes several of his outstanding paintings.
“It took me a long time,” Cerniga said of everything she’s done over the years. “But it was worth it.”
The exhibit also showcases the awards the 89-year-old Cerniga has won over the years, which are numerous. Cerniga was a national champion and among the awards presented at the show is her Top 10 1983 Arabian US National Championship Horse Show Award.
Cerniga has served in many organizations and also received the International Arabian Horse Association Volunteer Service Award. Additionally, she is a member of the International Arabian Horse Association Purebred Legion of Honor.
But again, his life has been about so much more than Arabian horses. She was also known to ride her old buggy she brought from Ohio and even ride a mule. She was also known for raising short-horned breeding cattle for 50 years.
The exhibit also includes photos of her with a buggy and of her in her traditional English riding uniform on a purebred Arabian horse. The museum also includes the costumes and saddles she used, including the costumes she made. One of the costumes on display is an impressive green costume that she made and wore to the Rose Parade on several occasions.
She and her husband Ray have been married for 63 years and have lived their entire lives in the Springville-Porterville area. Ray worked as a large animal veterinarian and he was quick to point out that his wife was also a veterinarian, as her 2018 plaque stated. “She took care of all of our livestock,” Ray said.
“She’s a farmer,” Ray added. “I’m a farmer,” Chick said.
But what Chick is best known for is performing in the Rose Parade with John Suttill’s Parading Arabians. She participated in the parade with the group for 23 consecutive years from 1979 to 2001.
But after September 11, 2001, as a safety measure for riders, the riding of Arabian horses in the Rose Parade was suspended. It turned out that 2001 would be the last time Cerniga participated in the Rose Parade.
But the Cernigas have met many distinguished people over the years due to their involvement with Arabian horses. There is a photo on display at the museum of Chick with Wayne Newton, also known for his love of Arabian horses, at a horse show in Scottsdale, Arizona.
When the Cernigas descended for the Rose Parade in Pasadena, they had the chance to visit the Gene Autry Museum in North Los Angeles, near Griffith Park and across from the Los Angeles Zoo. And they were fortunate to meet many distinguished people who served as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade, including John Glenn.
When asked how many Arabian horses she had had over the years, Chick replied, “Oh, I don’t know, I’ve had so many.”
“It was fantastic,” museum treasurer Susan Uptain said of everything Chick provided for the museum to display. “It was really great working with her. She’s happy with what we did.
“It’s so fabulous,” Chick said. “It’s nice.”