One of La Cañada Flintridge's oldest traditions cleared new hurdles for a successful relaunch last weekend.
The Flintridge Horse Show, formerly the Children's Horse Show, allowed riders of all ages for the first time in its 90-year history, packing the available stable space and overcoming a rainy first day to draw between 1,500 and 2,000 spectators for the four-day show.
The show is the primary fundraiser for the Flintridge La Cañada Guild of the Huntington Hospital. It has raised between $25,000 and $125,000 for the hospital each year for the last eight years, according to organizers.
Kristin Korkunis, the show's publicity chair, said it will be several weeks before the organization will have final financial totals for the event, which ran from April 26 through April 29 at the Flintridge Riding Club. But she said the show sold out all of its 400 horse stalls and almost all of its 400 seats for its Saturday night ringside dinner.
The Thursday start, she said, was less than ideal.
The weather “did not cooperate on Thursday at all,” Korkunis said. “But these intrepid riders were out in the pouring rain anyway. And then it cleared up and was nice for the rest of the weekend. It was a huge success. Most of the feedback that we got was, ‘This was great, we'll be back next year.'”
Korkunis said the club's decision to install new footings, the material on the surface of the arena, was an even larger boon than expected in the face of the rain.
Dale Harvey, who managed the Flintridge show for the first time, said the weekend went off as smoothly as could be expected, given that the he hadn't managed a show at the facility before, and that the maximum number of horses participated.
“There was a little bit of a learning curve, but overall it went well,” he said.
“We didn't expect the response we got from spectators and riders … it's a good problem to have.”
Korkunis said that next year the guild will bring in more food vendors to meet spectator demand.
The biggest draw of the weekend, said both Korkunis and Harvey, was the Saturday night grand prix event, which featured 36 riders attempting jumps raised to new heights. It was the first grand prix at the riding club in 30 years.
The top prize went to McLord's First John, owned by Laguna Niguel trainer Mickey Hayden and ridden by Lane Clarke.
“They had all of the riders who placed do a victory lap — this is sort of a tradition … that often these days is not adhered to — but they decided they wanted to make it very traditional,” Korkunis said. “It was really beautiful.”