Almost ten years ago the Howard County Horse Shows Association was just a dream for Tricia Scarcia and Ann Cockrell.
The women, both from Howard County, envisioned a structured countywide organization for putting on horse shows, educating riders and awarding performance at the end of each year.
When they met in early 1982 with organizers of the Carroll CountyHorse Shows Association to find out what had to be done, Scarcia recalls, "They said we'd never be able to get it organized for that year. But we did."
The two began with about six small 4-H and Pony Club shows and a membership that numbered about 60. These days, the HCHSA puts on 15 shows from April to October and boasts 225 members.
"As the horse industry and interest in horses have grown in the countywe have more professional facilities for our shows," Scarcia said. "One of our goals is to educate riders and their horses, and we have become more sophisticated in teaching. We hold clinics every spring for the riders to learn more."
The growth of the association also isattracting people from Montgomery, Frederick and Baltimore counties.
The geographic diversity was evident by the riders and horses whoattended the association's 10th annual awards banquet last weekend at the Turf Valley Country Club.
Horses and ponies from Columbia, Potomac, Poplar Springs, Laurel and Sparks garnered the most points in the year-end championships, and the major awards went to riders fromthose same communities.
It wasn't easy to recognize people at the banquet.
Recipients of the various awards usually are aboard a horse and are decked in breeches, boots, unisex jackets and hard hats. When riding in horse shows, the girls tuck their hair neatly behind their heads or under their hats.
But last Saturday night the tresses flowed, satin and velvet dresses and ribbons were out in full force, and the dancing shoes got a real workout.
The grand champion horse award was given to Random Catch, a 9-year-old chestnut mare owned by Danielle DeNike of Montgomery County and ridden and trained by Howard County's Ira Zimmerman. Random Catch was named champion low hunter and reserve champion schooling hunter. The reserve grand champion horse was Eileen Listrani's Millwood, who competed in the championships of the junior hunter and junior equitation under-14 divisions and the reserve championship of the children's hunter division.
Millwood's rider in those competitions was Lia Dean of Poplar Springs. The a14-year-old Glenelg High student has been riding since she was 7 years old.
The grand champion pony, recipient of the new Ken Etson Award, was Killer Kornflake. The 21-year-old Palomino gelding was ridden by 9-year-old Courtney Somers, a fourth-grader at Sparks Elementary.
Etson was a longtime and valued volunteer of the HCHSA who died earlier this year. The award in his memory was made by his wife, MaryEtson of West Friendship, who was accompanied at the dinner by the entire Etson clan.
Killer Kornflake is an old jumping pro who "doeshis own pony thing once in a while but usually listens," according to his rider, who entered her first horse show at age 3. His honors this year were championships in the small pony hunter and pleasure ponydivisions, and the reserve championship of the schooling pony hunter division.
Although Limerick Lad amassed enough points during the year to earn the titles of large pony hunter champion, schooling ponyhunter champion, and reserve champion in the Junior Equitation 14-to-17 division, Alysa Seals of Potomac did not realize until contacted by the HCHSA that her pony would be the year-end reserve champion pony.
"He's just cool and adorable," the 15-year-old Churchill High School student said of the pony, owned by Pam Maynard.
Stanton Salter of Laurel received the HCHSA medal finals. In most hunter divisions it is the horse who is judged, but in the equitation divisions and the medal classes the burden is all on the rider.
Salter, a 17-year-old sophomore at Atholton High School, had the services of Joshua'sCreek, a horse he describes as "a Cadillac."
"He made everything so easy for me," Salter said. "I knew that any mistakes were my fault."
"Little did I realize where things would end up," Scarcia said,reflecting over the 10 years since she and Cockrell started the organization. Her own daughter, Holly, has retired from active showing but still rides once a week with trainer Patty Foster.
"We had lots of fun traveling all over and meeting so many great people," Tricia'shusband Larry Scarcia says wistfully. "Last night at dinner Patty said she needed someone to drive the horse trailer to the next show. I told her I just might be the one."
AH: Winners, group both have something to cheer about