Horsemen introduce kids to equine skills, riders to trail riding
DUBLIN, Va. — Like all the other segments of the agricultural industry, a Southwest Virginia trail riding club ran straight into a huge problem with the heavy rains in early May.
The New River Valley Fairgrounds were closed to the horse show the group had scheduled for May 6.
The show ring was simply too muddy.
This pushed the Horseman’s Association of Southwest Virginia’s annual Spring Fun Show to the only open date, June 10, a day chock full of annual community activities that cut into participation and attendance at the fun show but not the spirit of the day.
Treasurer Frank Leonetti said the show was still a success, raising money for its causes.
One of the basic goals of the annual show is to introduce horses to young people.
This was happening both in the ring and in the stands.
Leonetti said it was interesting that grandparents, in many cases, were the ones introducing the young people to horses, either through stick horse races, lead line and costume classes or in the stands explaining to young spectators the way the horses in the ring changed gaits and leads in the ring and the characteristics they liked or disliked about horses and riding styles.
The fun show offered classes in the morning and competition in the afternoon.
In all, riders could participate in 69 classes during the show that started at 10 a.m. and wrapped up around 7:30 p.m.
As the day progressed, classes switched from youth to adult riders and club members got a chance to show their horses and compete in the event.
The competitive section started with prayer and presentation of the colors by a rider carrying the Stars and Stripes.
Leonetti who recently moved to the area from Florida, said the group will soon become the New River Valley Horse Association, a change caused by several factors.
One is that the current name has often been confused with the Southwest Virginia Horseman’s Association, one of the older equine groups in the state.
For decades it was sponsored the Wytheville Horseshow, one of the more important equine and social events of summer in the horse world in this part of the state.
By changing the name, the club, more for trail riders and people who own horses as a hobby or lifestyle than for riders in the competitive show circuit, members hope to attract new members.
It also gives the club a name that is easier to remember.
Leonetti said they want to put a new face on the club.
“We have a lot of new members, he said. “We are trail riders looking to get people trail riding, formally and informally.”
He said the formal rides include the ride for St. Jude’s planned for June 24.
The informal rides are members gathering on private property, usually owned by members, and riding together.