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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Flintridge Riding Club’s annual Autumn Classic a blue-ribbon event

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Presenting the La Cañada Flintridge Mayor’s Perpetual Trophy for Outstanding Equestrian Performance to the 2019 winner of the Flintridge Riding Club Medal Final Trophy. Winner, aboard her horse, is Lisa J. Brown who trains at the local club. Presenting are Mayor Len Pieroni, his wife, Brenda, and Ann Deren-Lewis, president of the FRC.
(Jane Napier Neely)

What a fun and exciting weekend it was at the La Cañada Flintridge Riding Club’s Autumn Classic Horse Show, Sept. 25 through 27. All the “horsin’ around” began on Friday night with a wine and cheese party. During the sipping and nibbling the guests watched jumper competitions in the main ring.

On Saturday, 15 riders from all over California competed for the Flintridge Riding Club Medal and the city of La Cañada Flintridge Mayor’s Perpetual Trophy for Outstanding Equestrian Performance.

Winning the title was Lisa J. Brown. She was presented with her trophy by LCF Mayor Len Pieroni, his wife Brenda, and LCF Riding Club president Ann Deren-Lewis. Lisa trains at the club so it seemed truly like a hometown win.

To qualify for the finals, riders compete all year long at horse shows throughout California. Riders with the highest points were then allowed to compete at the Flintridge Autumn Classic.

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Brenda Pieroni, LCF Mayor Len Pieroni and Randy Strapazon chat during a tour of the Flintridge Riding Club.
(Jane Napier Neely)

Randy Strapazon, a longtime member of the riding club, was the official greeter for the Pieronis. She welcomed them to a beautifully set table that reflected the show’s autumn theme. The lovely breakfast began with an assortment of sweet pastries, hot coffee and continued on with fresh fruits, and breakfast burritos filled with avocados, scrambled eggs, and potatoes accented with a spicy salsa. Cynthia Brooks was the caterer for not only the breakfast but for the entire event.

Before the competition began Randy gave the Pieronis a tour of the Riding Club grounds, which teemed with the activities of a horse show. Visiting horses were stabled in temporary stalls on the club’s outer limits. Guest dogs of all sizes and breeds are also a part of a horse show landscape. Brenda Pieroni, who grew up in the farm country near Pullman, Wash., was enjoying saying hello not only to the dogs but also the horses who stuck their heads out of their stalls for a nose rub.

After the Pieronis said their adieus, the equestrian competitions continued most of the afternoon despite a brief downpour that was quite a surprise for the riders. One of those riders was LCF resident and club member Erin Gershik on her horse, Milton, who weathered the squall. On the sidelines cheering her on was her husband, Matt, and their adorable dog, Sally, who is a mix of King Charles spaniel and poodle.

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On Saturday night the California Professional Horsemen’s Assn. (CHPA) put on a Grand Prix dinner to raise funds for scholarships for young equestriennes and financial aid for people who work in the horse community such as grooms and ground crew. Gelson’s Market in LCF provided the wines for the dinner. Coordinating the event for CHPA was Cris Warner, an FRC club member and LCF resident.

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Evelyn Strapazon, 2, participates in the children’s leadline event at Autumn Classic. She is with her trainers Suzanne Newman, right, and Carter Newman Milic.
(Courtesy of Randy Strapazon)

Saturday night was also a very special presentation of young riders aged 6 and under in a lead-line event. As the announcer said, they are the Grand Prix riders of tomorrow. Evelyn Strapazon, Randy’s 2-year-old granddaughter, was the youngest rider. She rode into the ring on a pony named Peanut accompanied by their trainers, Suzanne Newman and her daughter Carter Newman Milic. Each of the little riders received a blue ribbon. In Evelyn’s case, because she is so tiny, the blue ribbon was almost bigger than she.

Later in the evening the $15,000 Grand Prix Jumper event was held with the winner being Amelie Bittar in an exciting timed jump-off.

This annual autumn event concluded on Sunday with an ice cream social.

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