Steed Training’s goal for their Cow Horse Extravaganza series was to put on family friendly events that brought the community out to experience the excitement of reined cow horse competition, and their success was evident at the final event of the season. Spectators, sponsors and supporters gathered on Saturday, Oct. 25, to watch the ranch horse exhibition, listen to live music and enjoy a barbeque dinner.
The exhibition was held alongside a cow horse playday, which drew riders of all experience levels out to Golden L Ranch in Jupiter, Florida, to run through reining patterns and work cows in a laidback environment.
Reverend Marcia MacNeal, a non-denominational minister from the Center for Spiritual Living of the Palm Beaches, was on hand for the Blessing of the Animals. Visitors brought their horses and pets for the touching ceremony.
Erin O’Brien, a former international trick rider, barrel racer and team roper, carried the American flag out for the singing of the national anthem. She was dressed in a beautiful red, white and blue outfit.
“I think this is the greatest family event,” O’Brien said. “I was thrilled to come out and carry Old Glory. There’s so much camaraderie, and it’s so all-American. You don’t get this anymore. Rick Steed and his wife, Toni, are the most gracious hosts, and Rick has the patience of a saint with children.”
The series finale showed plenty of Halloween spirit, with young riders dressing in costume to perform reining freestyles. Spectators cheered on Batman and the others as they showed off spins and sliding stops.
Rick and Trevor Steed led the way in demonstrating ranch horse competition. Debbie Hall provided commentary, giving the spectators insight into the sport as she explained what the riders’ goals were in each phase and what the judge would be looking for. Hall has been involved with Horse Show By Appointment since the organization began, and she judged several of the summer exhibitions.
“These events have been really great for opening up the Western world to those who aren’t traditionally part of it,” Hall said. “They’re great family events.”
Announcer Bubba Dunn agreed.
“We had a kid today who has only been riding since March, and he did great,” Dunn said. “What makes events are the people, and the people here are wonderful. They enjoy coming out and spending time together.”
Liz Olszewski, director and founder of Horses Healing Hearts, was on hand to represent the charitable organization, which helps children in families suffering from substance abuse by connecting them with horses. Olszewski, a dressage rider, also had a chance to try her hand at riding a cow horse.
“Our goal here today was just to spread the word and get exposure,” Olszewski said. “We have been in existence for five years, and we are serving 49 kids now.”
“From a rider’s perspective, this was so cool,” she added. “I was telling people, ‘Thank God I don’t have money, I’d be buying one of these horses!’ I’ve had it on my bucket list, and to be able to come out and have this experience locally was a real treat.”
Singer and guitarist Tom Blake provided musical entertainment throughout the afternoon, performing classic country tunes as well as original songs. He said he was happy to be part of the event.
“It’s nice to be a part of real Western riding, being a country music singer and loving country music,” Blake said. “It’s great to play in front of my peers. Rick is awesome – I had a polo pony in training with him, and we became friends.”
Andres Sanchez, who competes in HSBA events alongside his two young daughters, generously provided food for the exhibition series.
“My daughters are 7 and 10 and have been riding for about two years now, and my wife helps out with the cow return,” Sanchez said. “The girls love it. There are a lot of children getting involved now, and they’re having a ball.”
Sanchez’s wife, Tracy, said the family friendly atmosphere at every event put on by Steed Training and HSBA is a big draw. She feels that her daughters have learned respect and commitment from their involvement with horses, and she does her best to spread the word.
“This is life for us, but our daughters’ friends know nothing about it,” she said. “So for each show, we try to bring one of their friends along so they can get a taste of it. What’s really great is the excitement of the next generation that’s coming up.”
While the Cow Horse Extravaganza summer series is coming to an end, things are just heating up for Steed Training as they prepare to open an additional facility in Loxahatchee Groves, Fla., less than 10 miles from the center of Wellington. Once complete, it will be a top-notch venue for reined cow horse competitors and other Western riders. The new facility, including a state-of-the-art arena complete with lighting, will open in January 2015.