From ponies to giant Belgium workhorses, horses of every size were out at the Peekskill Rotary’s 41st Annual Horse Show and Country Fair which took place at Blue Mountain Reservation in Peekskill this weekend.
The show’s four-legged guests of honor were joined by numerous young riders and spectators of every age who came from near and far to participate in and enjoy the two day show, which is the only show in Westchester County to host both Western and English riding competitions.
The two day event which included food and craft vendors, children’s activities, raffles and other attractions, all helped to contribute to the Rotary’s largest fundraiser of the year.
Everywhere you looked young ladies in riding gear bounced between vendor booths and the main field, while rotary members in blue smocks walked around taking pictures and selling raffle chances.
“I always love coming to the Horse Show,” said Helen M. Lynch, the Rotary’s District Governor. “It brings the club and community together like no other event possibly can.”
“Years ago I brought my children here to the Horse Show, but I then had no idea of what Rotary is” said Lynn Nayman, a rotary member who helped organize the vending area for this year's event.
“Now, I enjoy working this event and seeing so many of my neighbors, where I can talk to them about the service and international nature of Rotary.”
On Saturday, the day began with a horse pulling demonstration courtesy of Rock Hill Farms. The farm’s owner John Blumberg brought along a few of his “gentle giants,” Billy, Bubba, and Tom, to help with a farm plowing simulation, in which these 2,000 plus pound Belgium workhorses pulled a 700 pound tire on which Blumberg rode atop.
Standing in front of the large pens that held Blumberg’s horses was the Gilbert family, who’s children Lucy, 3, and Seth 2, stopped to pet Bubba.
“We like to come out and support local things like the rotary,” Danielle Gilbert said.
Besides the Western riding event which took place Saturday the day also featured the Therapeutic riding portion of the show.
Kevin and Terry Wyatt came out to see their eight year-old daughter, Molly, compete in this division, as she rode Patty, a horse from Manitou Farm in Garrison.
“We look forward to it every year. [Molly] has a wall full of trophies at home. It’s the highlight of her riding year,” Wyatt said.
“We’d love to have more therapeutic riders come participate at the show,” said Christina McGuire-Hayward, the show’s Ringmaster. “It gives the kids the chance to get out and work the horse, and maybe take home a blue ribbon too.”
On Sunday the English Day competitions brought even more spectators out to the show than Saturday’s events. Many of these attendees were children who all agreed that the horse jumping portion of the show was the most fun to watch.
Annette Vezina, a Peeksill resident attended the show for her thirtieth year, and brought along her granddaughters, Ashley, 3 and Allison, 7, who each sported freshly painted unicorns on their cheeks.
“We love the show and come every year,” Vezina said.
Throughout both days over 20 riders walked, trotted and jumped their horses in hopes of placing in a variety of categories. At the end of each competition riders lined up on horseback in the large ring and anxiously awaited the results. As contestants names were called each happily accepted colorful ribbons for both themselves and their horses to proudly display.
“This is gorgeous,” said Bethany White-Moss, who came from Albany to judge the Western and Therapeutic divisions of the show. “I can’t believe the amount of time people put into making this show happen. They need to be commended, because it really brings so much joy to the kids.”
Even those who weren’t riding that day had plenty to do to keep busy, besides watching the ongoing competitions.
Vendors came to the show to sell jewelry, toys, woodcrafts, and of course, horse tack for every rider’s needs.
Rich Tompkins, a vendor and wood artist from Eagle Wood Products in Moshannon, PA drove five hours just to be at the event. Originally from Ossining, Tompkins made wood carvings of horses to be given out as awards to the riders.
The Friend Network was even on hand baking homemade apple pies right on the spot, and selling them to help support the Peekskill Rotary, a tradition they’ve been keeping up for the past 10 years.
Amongst the artisans and food vendors were also members of various local non–profit organizations like the Putnam County SPCA and the Kathleen F. Marks Memorial Foundation, two newly established organizations who attended the Horseshow with the hopes of getting the word out to the community about their groups.
During the two days of festivities children bounced on inflatable structures, rode ponies, had their faces painted and enjoyed Magical Margo, who roamed the show’s grounds amazing children with her tricks. Members of Kwan’s Kung Fu were also on hand to do demonstrations and perform a “Dragon Dance” for those in attendance.
The money raised at this year’s Horse Show will go to help fund the numerous charitable organizations in the Greater Peekskill Region, such as the Paramount Center for the Arts and the Keon Center. Funds will also be contributed to the many scholarships awarded by the Peekskill Rotary to local students for their various achievements.