Warm fuzzies at fall horse show

Riders fill the Ag Hall grounds for competitive fun.

Annabelle Biggs on Tilly Trot over fences. —Glynis Hart

Tobi Stall came all the way from Portsmouth, R.I. to judge the Martha’s Vineyard Horse Council’s “Fall Fuzzy” show on Saturday, Oct. 29. “It’s just fun to see people coming out and having a good time,” she said of the atmosphere at the Ag Hall grounds.

The show brought out 39 riders, ranging 4 year-olds to older riders, who wanted to give their horses some practice in the ring. As with the Spring Fling show held at the Ag Hall grounds two seasons ago, the aim was to just get everyone out to have fun with horses. “Fall Fuzzy” refers to the developing winter coats on the horses, although few were truly fuzzy yet.

“The overall hope,” said Rebecca Solway, one of the organizers, “is to bring riders of all disciplines across the Island together. One of our biggest goals is to share the love of horses and give more young riders an opportunity to learn.”

The leadline division, in which an adult or teenager leads the horse with a beginning rider, had two large groups of 10 kids. “The best part is the leadliners and the walk/trots,” Stall said. “That’s the budding flower of what’s going to happen. I can’t believe how many of them there were.”

Stall directed the children and those holding the leads to walk in circles, and trot just a little bit — half way around the circle. Then, kids and horses lined up, and Stall would ask them a question, such as, “How do you reward your horse?”

“With a pat on the nose,” or “With treats,” the riders would reply.

“I always tell them, ‘You’ve made a great step coming to the show,’” Stall said. “By the end, if they can relax and smile, that’s good.”

As the classes moved on to more difficult challenges, the young kids stayed in the thick of things; it was their job to hand out the ribbons to the winners. Adults and teenagers competed in jumping and riding on the flat, and then the show moved to games, such as a wheelbarrow race and bobbing for apples. The costume competition showcased some surprising new horse and rider fashions for Halloween.

In addition to families and independent riders, participants included Woodbe Farm, Netherfield Farm, Pond View Farm, and the Funny Farm, Martha’s Vineyard Community Horse Center, Tashmoo Farm, and Arrowhead Farm. Several ponies shared by several riders gave sterling performances in many different classes: Steve, Charlie, and May carried their riders with patience and class over every obstacle.

The show was organized by Rebecca Soloway, Lisa Nivala, and Mary Ellen Casey, of the MVHC, and sponsored by Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank (MVSB), Cronig’s (provided food and snacks), Morning Glory Farm for the pumpkins and cornstalks used to decorate the jumps, Alley’s Corner Store, Susan and Peter Sprayregen, Vineyard Pottery, SBS, and MV Color and Finish. Thanks to the sponsorship of MVSB, the leadline participants entered for free.

Glynis Hart recently moved to Oak Bluffs; she is the former managing editor of the Finger Lakes Community Newspapers in Ithaca, N.Y.