This weekend's Therapeutic and Recreational Riding Center Benefit Horse Show couldn't come at a better time. Two months ago thieves broke into the center, taking much of the equipment used by disabled riders.
The fifth annual benefit will help the center recover from the theft.
"They took only the finest saddles, and they took the ones that the adults use," said center director Dr. Helen Tuel. "It was pretty rough around here the first few days after the theft. The adults all had to ride in the children's saddles that the thieves didn't take."
Some in the community have already stepped in to lend equipment and donate money for replacements. Contributions are tax deductible.
The organization will benefit from the entry fees, program book ad revenue and food concession revenues from the two-day show at Foxfield Farm in Woodbine.
There is no charge for spectators at the show, which is at 2728 Jennings Chapel Road, one-half mile north of Jones Road. Classes both days begin at 8:30 a.m. and are expected to last well into the afternoon.
Besides replacing stolen tack, the money raised also will go to center programs.
The show is recognized by the Howard County Horse Show Association and will be very competitive since points earned here count toward the association's year-end awards.
There are 82 classes scheduled for the show, including the $250 Hunter Classic on Sunday, and Saturday's $150 Pony and Junior Classic.
There also will be more than a dozen North American Riding for the Handicapped classes on Sunday. Many of the competitors will come from Tuel's program.
"We'll have about 60 riders at the show," Tuel said. "Showing is an option for our students, so only those who really want to do it will be there. Some of our kids aren't interested in showing at all and some would do it every day if they could."
For those disabled riders who want to show, there are plenty of opportunities this summer with shows just about every weekend in Maryland and other locations.
"We've just done the Special Olympics and then the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania," Tuel said. "There have been lots of shows in Maryland and after this weekend we will be getting ready for the show at the Columbia Horse Center in July."
Tuel encourages members of the community to come to the show to cheer on all the riders, especially those from the various therapeutic riding programs.
"Showing in front of an audience gives the riders great confidence," she said. "Showing at open competitions like this puts the disabled riders on an equal with their peers. For some of them it is the only chance they get to perform before the public and everyone likes an appreciative audience."