Escondido Mounted Posse memorial service for Diana Cavender (UPDATED)

Diana Cavender riding just prior to her death. (Photo Billy Ruiz, East County Magazine)

A memorial service for Diana Cavender took place at the Escondido Mounted Posse’s regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 26 at the Mitchell Room, Escondido City Hall, 201 N. Broadway. She was killed Saturday after falling from a spooked horse at a Lakeside Western Days Parade staging area off Channel Road.

Cavender, 52, an Escondido resident and horse trainer, was considered the most experienced rider in the group, but wasn’t wearing a helmet during the ride that resulted in her death. She had appeared in about 50 parades during her six years with the Escondido Posse. The Posse rides in 15 to 17 events annually.

Ms. Cavender was remembered as a loving person who “could reach out to anyone’s heart.” She was an Escondido native who played and refereed soccer, but most of all loved horses. She rode in the Escondido Mounted Posse for six years.

A certified public accountant, he married her husband, Joseph Manrique, in 2013. They met in the Escondido Mounted Posse.

“When the tragedy happened it was an accident,” Manrique said. “I can say with all my heart she did and she lived and she went out with what she loved to do. The short time I had with Diana, I learned a lot and I shared a lot and we shared a lot.”

“She was a cowgirl from the time she could sit on her pony,” Diana’s mother, Betty Jo Cavender, said. “I want them to remember how close she was to God.”

During Tuesday’s memorial at the Monthly Mounted Posse’s meeting, friends wiped away tears as they listened to stories about Diana. “I was just honored to be around her,” one of Ms. Cavender’s friends said.

A sunset vigil for Diana will be held at the Lakeside site where Ms. Cavender died. Her public funeral will be 5 p.m. Friday, May 6, at Emmanuel Faith Community Church, 639 E 17th Ave., Escondido.

What happened at the parade

The horse and rider  lost control around 10:45 a.m. Saturday, according to the group’s captain, Al Pfeltz, who didn’t know what spooked the horse. Cavender was rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital where she died a few hours later.

“We still had about 75 yards to go when (her) horse sort of took off and went to the front of the posse,” said Pfeltz. “It reared, from what I can recall, it spun and then suddenly all of its hoofs went out from underneath it and it slammed down on its right side whipping Diana into the asphalt.”

Cavender’s husband, who also rode in the parade, watched as the scene took place. The couple were married three  years ago. Cavender had ridden the same horse who killed her in several other parades. The horse was unharmed in the incident.

“Most members are in shock and awe, the group has been around since 1948 and we have never had one of our riders get killed in a parade,” Pfeltz said. “The things I will remember most about her are that she was a child of God, very religious, she really loved her husband and she was an expert equestrian rider.”

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