Horsing around for a cause

The annual Children’s Horse Show at the La Cañada Flintridge Riding Club, which returns this weekend, has changed slightly each year of its 90-year existence.

It remains the same at its core, though — a family-oriented event free-of-charge to the public that’s staged by a small group of volunteers, said Kris Korkunis, who’s co-chairing the event for the second consecutive year.

The Children’s Horse Show, sponsored by the Flintridge La Cañada Guild of the Huntington Memorial Hospital, is the only Children’s Class A horse show in America. Riders come from across the United States to compete, show their horses and meet requirements for later participation in Olympic trials.

“The horse show is huge, it’s a 90-year tradition,” said the event’s co-chairman Lauren Oakes, who’s been a part of the guild for the past 25 years. “It’s the oldest children’s show continuously running in the nation. It’s a way of life in a city like La Cañada that you won’t find anywhere else.”

There’s a lot to experience in the event, which begins at 8 a.m. Friday and runs through Sunday afternoon, from competitive riding, booths of refreshments, food, unique merchandise and more.

Arlene Anders, an internationally-acclaimed sculptress, will bring 50 of her bronze sculptures for display and purchase.

For Korkunis, though, nothing can compare to the riding.

“A lot of these kids start when they’re really young and they ride all the way through — it will be a part of their lives forever,” Korkunis said. “That traditional part of it is really special. To me, that is the most heartwarming part of it, seeing these kids grow.”

Many world-renowned equestrians have gone on to accomplish much in the riding world after getting their feet wet in the annual Children’s Horse Show, which is now being considered for “heritage status” by the United States Equestrian Federation.

Susie Hutchison, a U.S. Olympic team and internationally awarded rider; Jimmy Williams, a world renowned rider, coach and trainer; and Hap Hansen, a renowned rider, trainer and judge all have participated in the show.

A wine and microbrew tasting will be held on Friday night, which includes a “$500 Gambler’s Choice” jumper class — the first time in the 90 years of the show. The gambler’s choice event allows riders to plan their own course to complete in a given time frame, giving them the opportunity to do lots of easy jumps for fewer points or more difficult jumps for more points. At the end, the competitor with the most points gets a cash prize.

A ringside dinner with a costumed tandem event will take place Saturday night.

Admission for the tasting is $30 per person, the ringside dinner is $100 ($20 for children).

The Children’s Horse Show is also unique because it’s run for a charity, Oakes said.

“Other horse shows around the nation aren’t run for charity, they’re run for profit,” Oakes said. “We are the only one I can think of that puts on a classic horse show that’s totally free. Everything we make is given to the hospital.”

All the funds raised benefit will go toward a new trauma center at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

“The new trauma center is being built on 100% donated funds, nothing is coming out of [the hospital’s] operating budget, it’s all being done by people like us,” Korkunis said. “It’s an $80 million project, so it’s hard to do.”

The Flintridge Riding Club is located at 4625 Oak Grove Drive, La Cañada. For more information about the 90th Annual Children’s Horse Show — including sponsorship opportunities and reservations for the Friday Wine and Microbrew Tasting or Saturday Dinner — contact Korkunis at (818) 395-2546 or Oakes at (818) 790-2622, or visit www.childrenshorseshow.org.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World