By Jackie HOUCHIN
The Flintridge-La Cañada Guild’s Annual Children’s Horse show is the oldest children’s Class A show in the nation. For 90 years, kids from across the nation have come to compete, show their horses and meet the requirements for later participation in the Olympic trials.
Over the weekend of April 29-May 1, nearly 200 young equestrians, aged 5-18 in immaculate riding costumes and astride gleaming horses with intricately braided manes and tails, wowed spectators as they cantered and sailed over strings of fences with the ease and style of seasoned professionals. Later these youthful riders could be seen around the Flintridge Riding Club with beaming faces and armfuls of fluttering multi-colored ribbons.
It was a weekend of excitement, thrills (and spills) for kids, indulgent pride for parents, and for the thousands of spectators an opportunity to support a worthy cause while having a good time.
Three special events offered entertainment to attendees for set donations. On Friday, the annual Wine & Microbrew Tasting coincided with the new “$500 Gambler’s Choice” Jumper Class event. On Saturday, 280 attendees sat down at the Ringside Dinner and watched the incredible “Children’s Tandem Precision Riding Show.”
In the tandem riding event – a favorite with the kids – teams of three riders choose a theme and then dress themselves and their horses in elaborate costumes. They perform a series of spaced jumps and then all three hurdle a wide fence at the same time. Prizes are given for precision and costumes. Each team also creates an elaborate, themed bride basket full of assorted goodies, which are offered in the silent auction on Sunday. Bids of well over $100 proved the baskets’ popularity and the crowd’s generosity.
Food concessions, horse-themed jewelry, clothing and accessories vendors, and the magnificent bronze sculptures (Designs by Arlene), all provided attendees multiple opportunities to purchase. And the vendors each gave a percentage of their profits to help cover the cost of the show.
Since 1951, the children’s horse show has been the primary fundraiser of the Flintridge-La Cañada Guild of the Huntington Hospital.
“Millions have been raised over the years,” said co-chairman Lauren Oaks, “and recently we met a three-year, quarter-million-dollar goal in just two years.”
The Flintridge-La Cañada Guild is a “working guild” as opposed to a purely social group. Its 20-plus members and their families work hard to put on the annual show. In addition to raising funds, members also volunteer their time at the hospital gift shop. They welcome new members.
Recent proceeds from the children’s horse shows have purchased a heart-lung machine for newborns for the hospital’s neonatal unit and a fully equipped treatment room for the hospital’s new ER facility. The 2010-2011 goals are to support the continuing construction of the new level-1 trauma center.
Dr. Steve Ralph, CEO of Huntington Hospital, along with 30 other hospital personnel and their families attended Saturday’s Ringside Dinner. He reported on the progress of the building project and voiced his appreciation and thanks to the sponsors and for the equestrian and local communities’ continued support.