This Memorial Day weekend was a memorable one for many Carroll County horse enthusiasts.
Countians pursued equine endeavors here in the county, in the far northern reaches of the state and at a prestigious national event held in Pennsylvania.
Close to home, more than a dozen horses and their riders took to the trails at the Morgan Run Environmental Area on a ride sponsored by TROT -- Trail Riders of Today.
"It was a sightseeing mission on an absolutely glorious day," said ride organizer Carolyn Garber of Winfield. "We got lots of good feedback about this area from all of the riders.
"They loved seeing the abundant wildlife and all the flowering and blooming plants. The riders were very pleased with the naturally good footing and with the variety of terrain in this area."
Up in Fair Hill, Cecil County, the Conaway family competed in three races at the annual Fair Hill Steeplechase Meet and won all three. Kelly Conaway won the Small Pony Race on Natalie; Charlie III won the Large/Medium Division aboard his beautiful filly Got All Night and then went on to win the 1-mile Junior Horse Race on Rollin' Slew. Kelly placed fourth in the Large/Medium race on Garfield, who was the only medium pony in the eight-horse field.
"It was a really long race and was tougher for Garfield," says Kelly, who was very proud of her pony at the end of the 3/4 -mile contest. "He tried really hard."
The Carroll County 4-H Riding for the Handicappers took five of their group to Pennsylvania to compete at the Thorncroft Equestrian Center in the Annual Handicapped Riders Event of the Devon Horse Show.
The Devon Horse Show is one of the oldest and most prestigious in this country; this is the 13th year for the Handicapped Riders Event, the largest such tournament of its type in the United States.
"It was a wonderful day, and the kids were all thrilled," said Mary Shunk of riders Megan Roland of Westminster, Bruce Watt of Mount Airy, Brenda Bower of Butler, Shelby Kennedy of Damascus and Shana Murphy of Baltimore.
"They are all such good sports. They are not all gritting their teeth to get ribbons. They appreciate all of their accomplishments."
Gritting their teeth or not, this contingent returned to Carroll County with a van full of ribbons. Each rider was allowed to compete in a maximum of three classes. The Carroll group primarily competed in equitation, dressage and trail classes, although Shana Murphy and her pony Cricket also competed in the costume class.
"Cricket was done up as a bowling alley, and Shana was a bowling ball," said Shunk, who could barely contain her mirth at the memory of this spectacle. But the best was yet to come.
"Bob [4-H organizer Bob Shirley] was a pin boy and went behind them to pick up the pins."
Shana "pinned" second in this class and also earned ribbons in trail and equitation.
Roland and Easter earned blues in dressage and equitation and were second in trail. The points had not yet been totaled when the group left Pennsylvania, but Megan was a good bet for a Reserve Champion award.
Watt and the General won their equitation class, were third in trail and finished fifth in a large dressage class. Bower and Anwar, a former polo pony donated by Garrison Forest School in Baltimore County, acquitted themselves splendidly with a blue in dressage and a second place in equitation. Kennedy also won her dressage class and earned a third place in equitation.
June 2: Carroll County Equestrian Council monthly meeting, East Middle School in Westminster, 7:30 p.m., 833-4593.
June 7: Carroll County Western Circuit Show at Ship's Quarters near Westminster, 833-4593 or 526-9352.
June 11-13: Appalachian Singlefoot Horse Clinic at the Probst Farm, 12443 Legore Road, Keymar, (301) 845-6202.