The horse show circuit can be a bit of a bubble for junior riders. Sure, there are plenty of fancy horses to go along with those long days, early mornings, and the constant competitive atmosphere. But that privilege (and pressure) can make the “A” circuit an easy environment to get wrapped up in. Thankfully, the kids over at the Giant Steps Charity Classic at the Sonoma Horse Park in California are setting a new kind of example for show kids around they country: they’re not only riding for ribbons, they’re relaying for a good cause.
Now in its third year, the horse show’s Annual Junior Relay raises money for the Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center by getting young riders (including Avery Schoen, Avery Glynn and Madeline Twomey) off their ponies and into the community spirit, creating awareness and supporting their peers in therapeutic riding. Teams of two riders must raise a minimum of $500 in order to earn their place in the main event: Friday’s unmounted obstacle course, taking place today after classes are done in the Wells Fargo Grand Prix Arena. The Olympic-themed relay requires riders to choose a country and compete in costume, with participation prizes and relay advantage points awarded to teams who raise $500, $1,000, and $2,500. At the end of the day, the team with the fastest time through the obstacle course, the team that has raised the most money, and the team judged most “inspirational” will receive special grand prizes.
All funds raised will go toward Giant Steps, a non-profit organization offering life-changing therapy to people of all ages with a wide range of physical, emotional, and developmental challenges, from Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome to veterans living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and children considered to be “at risk”. The money will be used toward Giant Steps’ scholarship funding, ensuring that no one in need of the non-profit’s services is ever turned away for lack of means (you can also make a donation here).
Good luck to all!