SADDLE UP

Horses of Spanish heritage will be stepping lively and proud in events held Thursday through Sunday at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

The 11th annual Fiesta of the Spanish Horse will offer four days of multibreed show competitions that are free to attend, and a Saturday night gala raising funds for cancer research.

The daily competitions are for Spanish breeds like Andalusian, Lusitano, Pura Raza Española, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso and Friesian, said Joanne Asman, event coordinator. They will be competing for ribbons and prizes.

The premier event, however, is the Saturday gala benefit featuring musicians, dancers, celebrities and horses performing various feats, she said.

“It’s a Broadway show, except instead of being at the Kodak Theater or Ahmanson, we are in the arena of the Equestrian Center,” she said. “There are musicians, dancers, and the horses are the actors.”

The horses are very proud when they know they are headed for competition, said Burbank resident Nancy Latta, who has four horses competing in the daily contests.

One of those horses is Mayoral, a 24-time national champion, Latta said.

“He loves to show off, so the Saturday night extravaganza is one of his favorite things,” she said.

The horses have their whiskers, muzzle, ears and legs trimmed in preparation for the show. They have their body hair clipped if the winter coat remains.

“When these preparations start to happen and the horse trailer pulls up in front of the barn, horses realize they are going to a show,” Latta said. “Mayoral trots to the trailer and hops in.”

Once, when Mayoral was injured and couldn’t compete at the National Andalusian Horse Show in Texas, he pouted, she said.

“Most horses don’t want to be left behind,” she said.

The nighttime extravaganza gives all the Spanish breeds a chance to show what they can do, said Glendale resident Lauren La Vine, a trainer at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Her horse, Adelina, is a multinational champion half-Andalusian and half-Paint mare, she said.

“This year, I will be exhibiting her in the International Andalusian Lusitano Horse Assn. Breed Demonstration at the nighttime extravaganza in the Huntseat Attire to which she is the reigning Half Andalusian Huntseat Open National Champion for 2008,” she said in an e-mail. “She won this award as an 4-year-old, which is very rare at such a young age.”

In the competition, the horses move in a forward motion used in hunting fields in England, where the style originated, she said.

There are telling signs that the horse is enjoying showing off his talent, La Vine said.

“The higher they pick their feet up and the [more] forward they put their ears, the more you know they are enjoying the audience watching them,” La Vine said. “The horses respond to the audience clapping.”

Glendale resident Renee Baker will perform the reining freestyle discipline, which is based on cattle-corralling techniques, put to music during the extravaganza, she said. She trains reining horses and all types of western disciplines at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, she said.

Baker is showing a client’s horse she used to own named Peppy Sugar Chex, a 17-year-old quarter horse. He is now owned by Chris Joffe of Santa Monica.

“He’s my favorite in the barn, so I will be using him,” she said, adding that they will be demonstrating spins, sliding stops and changing lead or direction.

There will be a silent auction to raise funds for the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. One prize is spending the day as a crew member with Traveler, USC’s mascot, at a USC home game. Traveler will also attend the event, and people can pose for pictures with him, Asman said.

Asman wanted to help the cancer center in honor of a friend, she said.

“A dear friend of mine had cancer and was being treated there,” she said. “I have two children of my own, so I try to help children, especially when it comes to something like this. We want children to be able to grow up and have children of their own.”

Asman enjoys helping others battling the same cancer her friend had, she said.

“You can’t cure it, but they have the ability to stop the cancer he had then, and if we can help one person, one child, be saved and have a good life, then it’s worth it to us,” she said.

The extravaganza has received support from celebrities like Miley Cyrus, who donated an autographed golf cart from her new film “Hannah Montana: The Movie” for a raffle.

Celebrities planning to attend are actress Stefanie Powers from the former TV show “Hart to Hart” and Leslie Charleson from “General Hospital,” who donated a day on set as a silent-auction prize.

New to the lineup this year are the California Cowgirls, a multi-championship rodeo drill team, and a Friesian horse performance. A highlight of the event will be the chance to see a horse breed new to the United States, the Costarricense de Paso, of which there are only nine in the country, Asman said.

The day begins with pre-show activities from 3 to 6 p.m. The barns are open to allow guests to see the horses, mariachis will perform trick roping, and vendors will sell food, jewelry, saddles and pottery, Asman said.


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