New rider Paul Eyestone, riding a horse borrowed from OPEN co-founder Diane Royall, did an excellent job learning how to communicate with the horse during the fun fundraiser and Western games playday at the 4L arena Sept. 23. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

New rider Paul Eyestone, riding a horse borrowed from OPEN co-founder Diane Royall, did an excellent job learning how to communicate with the horse during the fun fundraiser and Western games playday at the 4L arena Sept. 23. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

HORSEPLAY: Games bring fun, camaraderie, funds for OPEN and WAG

“YOU BETTER THINK (think), think about what you’re doing to me!” Those song lyrics from Aretha Franklin’s hit “Think” played repeatedly in my mind each time I heard 4L arena owner Kari Payne emphasize that her events weren’t the usual games for those with experienced gaming horses.

Instead, she designed them for fun and a bit of a challenge for all riders — beginners to advance — with the goal of enhancing “communication and trust between horse and rider” and then reaping the rewards that come from it. A bonus was everyone taking part received a reward at the end of the day, plus proceeds from the day’s silent auction, raffle and games went to support OPEN and WAG.

It took place on Sept. 23. Western games were from 3-5 p.m., because Fox Bell Farm owner and trainer Shelby Vaughn came in the morning with some of her riders to give a mini jumping clinic. Kari shared that nine young riders braved the rainy weather and practiced jumping over fences. There was a large group of spectators, parents and support people making sure everyone had tacked up properly, and also helped with the loading and unloading of the horses.

New rider Paul Eyestone, riding a horse borrowed from OPEN co-founder Diane Royall, did an excellent job learning how to communicate with the horse during the fun fundraiser and Western games playday at the 4L arena Sept. 23. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

New rider Paul Eyestone, riding a horse borrowed from OPEN co-founder Diane Royall, did an excellent job learning how to communicate with the horse during the fun fundraiser and Western games playday at the 4L arena Sept. 23. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

After the English riders departed, Payne said they reworked the arena and prepared for the gameshow. Coincidentally, nine Western riders competed in the five-event gameshow and many more people came out to spectate and participate in the silent auction. The rain stopped just as the gameshow was about to begin, which was a huge relief. A few riders had prior gaming experience, but the majority were brand new to the discipline.

I’m a huge supporter of youth equestrian organizations, so I appreciated seeing three members of last year’s Sequim high school equestrian team — Aby Garcia, Keri Tucker and Joanna Seelye — racing.

A personal highlight was getting to hang out a bit with friend and famed local veterinarian Linda Allen, who was there to support the fundraiser.

“Today’s all about fun, supporting good causes, and, at the end of the day, everybody’s going to get a prize —it’s a fantastic day,” said OPEN co-founder Valerie Jackson.

Cloudy skies

The overcast weather, with occasional sprinkles earlier in the day, did put a damper on the number of competitors who showed up that afternoon, which was a bit of a bummer, however, those who competed echoed similar thoughts, saying they had a lot of fun and learned a lot about communicating with their horses when riding through Payne’s made up patterns.

“Kari’s got such a fabulous facility and has everything to do this right. I’d love to be able to do more of these fun type fundraising events, said Valerie. “I hope when the weather gets nicer again, we can do this again in the springtime.”

LaTasha Mason, left, Kate Tippets (horse trainer at OPEN) and Paul Eyestone wait for the next event to begin. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

LaTasha Mason, left, Kate Tippets (horse trainer at OPEN) and Paul Eyestone wait for the next event to begin. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

After Keri Tucker and her black horse executed another successful and fast run through poles, around an black cone at the end, and back through the poles again Payne gushed. “She communicated with her horse and her horse really listened to her!”

Payne summed up the day with this: What a blast!

One rider, Kendra Abrams, had just started riding Western about a week and a half before the event. She and her horse Stone, a 16.2 hand, black and white paint gelding, worked together very well as a new team just beginning to know one another.

What impressed me the most during the gameshow was the level of communication and teamwork between each horse and rider, as the events were not the common gameshow events and required a high level of trust and respect from the horse towards the rider.

The many volunteers from WAG, OPEN and others made this event a total success. In addition, the incredible support and generosity shown by the community was awe inspiring. Overall, there were more than 65 auction items donated by businesses and individuals in Clallam County. Considering that this was my very first event at my facility and the short amount of time we had to pull it all together, I am beyond ecstatic at the outcome; we raised about four times more than our goal. Many thanks to the people who donated, volunteered and participated in this fun event which supports two very deserving rescue organizations.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at kbg@olympus.net at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

High school friends and equestrian team members Aby Garcia, left, Keri Tucker and Joanna Seelye enjoyed racing through the unusual game patterns and supporting the fundraiser. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

High school friends and equestrian team members Aby Garcia, left, Keri Tucker and Joanna Seelye enjoyed racing through the unusual game patterns and supporting the fundraiser. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

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