The Santa Barbara County Riding Club wrapped up the show season this Halloween weekend by hosting its Year-End Medal Finals at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The three-day hunter/jumper event boasted over 100 classes, including a Tandem Hunter Costume class as well as a $500 Buckle Bunny Jumper Stake.
Although the show was free to spectators, selected entry fees went to benefit Equine Evac, a volunteer-based program involved in caring for livestock displaced in the recent Jesusita and Tea fires. The funds raised will go towards new equipment for the organization, helping them serve the equine community more efficiently.
The SBCRC, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering horsemanship and riding skills within the community, hosts five shows annually as well as an awards banquet to honor those riders with the highest medal standings.
In true Halloween spirit, the finals kicked off Friday with a light-hearted costume class, featuring horse and rider teams dressed up as, among other characters, the wicked witch of the west (from The Wizard of Oz), Cruella De Ville, and the three amigos (from the movie of the same name).
On Saturday and Sunday, October 31 and November 1, pairs shed their costumes for a more refined look, consisting of navy coats and knee-high boots, to guide their horses over cross-rails ranging from two to four feet high. Also, equitation and showmanship classes scattered throughout the afternoon offered a chance for horse and rider to show off their skills while keeping all four hooves on the ground.
Traditionally about 90 competitors take to the ring each SBCRC show, but the 70 riders registered Halloween weekend kept the atmosphere more intimate, and the competition was no less stiff, participants said.
Despite the race for ribbons, SBCRC spokesperson Rebecca Atwater said, “It was really a show with something for everyone, all about good sportsmanship, a love of horses, riding your best, and of course having fun.”
While the SBCRC show season will remain dormant until March of 2010, the Horse Academy Awards will honor the most accomplished riders of the year at the Carriage Museum on January 9.