WATERTOWN Horse riders of all ages flocked to the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds on Sunday to participate in the Black River Valley Horse Association open show.
The show was the third Silver Dollar Series show in the associations season.
We had people from within 100 miles from here turn out, said Connie R. Romeo, association treasurer. Locally, riders came from Malone, Massena, Liverpool, Adams, Sackets Harbor, Copenhagen and Ogdensburg. Exhibitioners also traveled from Syracuse.
Its open to children, adults and different breeds of horses, said Donna M. Parenti, the organizations vice president.
The show began at 9 a.m. and featured 44 classes. English-style showings were held in the morning and Western-style picked up after the lunch break. Classes were judged based on equitation and pleasure.
An equitation class judges the riders and their exhibition ability, while a pleasure class judges the horse.
Ms. Parenti explained that, during an equitation class, the horse can go ballistic, but so long as the rider looks good thats what the judge is looking at.
Ribbons were awarded for each class and in each of the 10 championship divisions.
According to Ms. Romeo, the association was originally started to offer show options to teenagers who were too old to participate in 4-H.
There was no place for kids to go after 4-H, said the former horseback rider.
Melinda A. Knapp, 16, of Cape Vincent started attending shows six years ago.
I have been riding since I was 5, when my older sister got started, she said.
She said she started showing with 4-H and then joined the Black River association because it was the next closest organization for showings.
Its a good escape. It keeps me out of trouble, the Thousand Islands Central School student said.
Linda D. Knapp, Melindas mother, said participating in shows teaches her daughter patience.
According to Ms. Romeo, the majority of participants in horse shows are female. She said that, during the teenage years, riding is a great sport because it helps girls to deal with their emotions. Also, caring for the horses keeps girls busy.
Ms. Parenti said barring accidents or money issues, very few riders will leave the sport. When asked if she would continue with shows, she said, I am always going to have horses.
Still, the monetary cost is high.
It would be scary to add it all up, Ms. Romeo admitted. Just a few expenses to consider are horse health and maintenance, boarding, riding equipment and clothes.
The Black River Valley Horse Association has been operating for more than 20 years. The seasons final show is scheduled for Aug. 19 and will be judged by Bonnie Miller, chairwoman of the equine science department at Morrisville State College.
There is also a fun show scheduled for Sept. 16.
Riders have eggs in spoons, water races its just a time when horses get to have a good time and not be so dressed up, Ms. Parenti said.
Ms. Romeo insisted the fun shows are still competitions, just without all the pomp and formality of a regular show.
All shows are at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds horse rings. Participants must be registered association members for insurance purposes. An annual membership, which runs until Dec. 31, is $10 for an individual and $20 for a family. For more information, visit www.brvha.com.