Equestrians show skills at Autumn Classic

A brief display of rain and thunder couldn't keep the Flintridge Autumn Classic from riding through La Cañada.

People from all over Southern California flocked to the Flintridge Riding Club's 70th annual Autumn Classic, which kicked off Friday morning and wrapped up Sunday.

Interested spectators trotted in to catch the festivities while riders competed for one of the 28 different championship trophies up for grabs. The weekend's two highlight events were the San Fernando Hunter Jumper Assn. Challenge Medal Finals and the Pacific Coast Horse Show Assn. Awards.

"It's a competition," said Nancy Dunton, president of the Flintridge Riding Club's board of directors. "People like to see their horses do well and test their skills; it's a measurement of personal equestrian excellence."

Harly Barrera, a 15-year old from Pasadena, already had three ribbons (after coming in second, fifth and sixth place) as proof of her equestrian excellence just six hours into the first day of competition.

"I have a new horse and I've only had him for three months so I just wanted to get out and see the competition and how he would react," said Barrera, who returned to the Autumn Classic for her second straight year and competed in eight different events.

Throughout the entire year, riders and their horses compete in many qualifying horse shows throughout the year, racking up points just so they can set a foot or hoof in the ring at the Autumn Classic.

"It feels great being here; you have to work hard all year," said Devon Manze, a 16-year old rider from Sherman Oaks.

Manze returned to the Autumn Classic for her second year with the goal of winning it all, after taking sixth place in 2009.

While some rode a horse for a championship, some rode a horse for their very first time, thanks to weekend's lead-line class for those 6-and-under.

"We go from the very youngest, under 6, and I don't know how far under 6 they go, to 50 and over," Dunton said. "It's an all encompassing show."

Those who left their riding boots at home just relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere.

"This is a tradition. For La Cañada to host here at their barn, it continues that tradition for the community," Denise Barrera said. "It's always nice for people from outside the community to come in for this event."

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