IT’S THAT TIME of year when top Washington State Horsemen performance competitors, both local and from across the state, gather at the Port Angeles fairgrounds July 28-30 to compete in the fifth annual Star Spangled Horse Show.
Hosted by the Star Spangled Horse Club, it’s a Washington State Horsemen “B” system, or all-breed, show open to anyone who is interested in showing their horse.
There are classes for everyone, from young to old, novice to advanced, and include Western and English performance classes, equitation and pleasure classes, as well as reining, working rancher, trail, showmanship and halter. And now there also is jumping.
“We want our local 4-H kids to know they can do this, too,” said Sherri Ellis.
She, her husband, Tom, and son, Kyle, are the principle members of the Star Spangled Horse Club. The club was formed for the sole purpose of bringing a quality, competitive performance horse show to Port Angeles.
“This show will be good for younger ones or those in 4-H to compete in so they can see the workings and aspects of showing at a higher level of competition,” Sherri Ellis said.
Fourteen High Point trophies will be given out, including one just for 4-H members.
Championship trophies include engraved silver platters and silver belt buckles.
Decal ribbons are awarded out to sixth place.
“Instead of ribbons we have iron-on awards that look like the ribbons but they can be ironed on to the WSH awards jackets,” Ellis said.
She showed me one of Kyle’s jackets with several of his winning “ribbons” ironed on in a tasteful display.
“A classy show like this, with quality awards, attracts big name trainers from out of the area,” said Tom Ellis, club president.
“For instance, we have one trainer who’s bringing 15 horses from her barn.”
He said too often these days shows don’t offer any awards, ribbons or high-point trophies, with many organizations offering only year-end awards.
“At some shows you might pay $25 per class entry fee and be one of the winners, but then you go home and have nothing to show, no reward for all your hard work,” Tom Ellis said.
“Here, because we’ve gotten a lot of good community support, good sponsors, we are able to give both practical and glitzy quality items as prizes.”
Everyone competing gets a red, white and blue gift bag along with a premium book that lists the sponsors and classes.
I read the show’s premium book, and I have to say the long list of local sponsors is impressive. They include room discounts at The Red Lion Hotel and Super 8 motel for anyone staying that weekend for the show.
On Saturday night, show sponsors West Side Pizza will once again bring its pizza for dinner. Later, there will also be a wine tasting offered by Harbinger Winery.
Good judges who place competitors on individual merit in each event are important, and this show’s bringing three highly skilled and impartial judges from out of the area — Steve Bryson, Tammy Whitt and Kristen Hansen. Dawn Spencer is the ring steward.
With these judges, a local person has just as good a chance as winning as a person who is well-known and travels the circuit, Tom Ellis said.
Last year, 110 horses entered the competition. Tom Ellis viewed those 110 horses with an eye to how they can benefit the community.
“We know each horse comes with at least two humans who, during the three- to four-day show will spend some money in the area, which is a benefit to our community,” he said.
He said a great many businesses in the community see the value in sponsoring.
First it’s a tax write off and second the business gets its name mentioned in several ways during the show: In the premium book, their name is announced during its sponsored event, the business name is engraved on the prize and many pay to have their name displayed on a banner posted around the arena.
“It’s a win-win for the businesses who want their name out there, and for the competitors who get quality awards,” Tom Ellis said.
Knowing the tremendous amount of work it takes to put on a show, I asked the Ellises, who don’t compete, why they do it when, “You could just continue to accompany your son to his shows?”
In a nutshell, they wanted to put on a local, high caliber Washington State Horsemen performance show that would bring these high-end competitors to our community.
“We just get so disheartened when we go to other shows and no one seems to be getting the ribbons or awards they used to get, which to us are rewards of appreciation for the effort and hard work it takes to do well,” Tom Ellis said.
“So for us, the personal satisfaction comes with putting on a good, quality show, with quality awards, that can also benefit the community.”
It should be noted the Ellises receive no financial gain from hosting the show.
The club is a nonprofit organization formed solely to host the show.
What they do is spend many, many hours of their personal time to organize and put on the show.
Come show time, they have their noses to the grindstone, so to speak, from the time they arrive at the fairgrounds that Wednesday until they leave the following Monday.
While the Ellises are the most visible behind-the-scenes workers, they couldn’t do it alone, of course, and they have volunteers helping in all aspects.
“The success of the show really is due to the help we receive from friends and family, sponsors, members of the Star Spangled Horse Club, Olympic Peninsula Zone, the Silver Spurs and Pure Country 4-H clubs, and of course, our exhibitors,” Sherri Ellis said.
“Anyone who’s put on a show can tell you we can never get enough help, so extra help is always appreciated.”
An added benefit is a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Clallam County Humane Society specifically for large animals.
For more information, call show manager Sherri Ellis at 360-460-8481.
The state Department of Health advised that West Nile virus has been detected in Yakima County.
Horses can contract this virus, which causes an invasive and painful inflammation of the nervous system, when a mosquito that has previously fed on an infected bird bites them.
A vaccine is available, but to reduce the risk of exposure try to eliminate mosquito breeding sites (areas of stagnant water) on your property.
• Star Spangled Horse Show — Starts at 8 a.m. July 28-30 at Clallam County Fairgrounds.
• Joe Wolter clinic — Aug. 11-13 at Freedom Farm, 164 Spring Farms Road, Port Angeles.
For more information, call Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897 or go to www.freedom-farm.net.
• Back Country Horsemen Sallstrom Ranch ride — Aug. 19 with a 10 a.m. rideout on the Olympic Discovery Trail Adventure Route, followed by potluck at the ranch, 278 Dunmire Road, Joyce.
For more information, call hostess Margaret Sallstrom at 360-928-3770.
• Ride the Hill — Aug. 25-27 at Layton Hill Horse Camp, 2514 Chicken Coup Road, Sequim.
Register by Aug. 10.
For more information, contact Anna Sage Neal at 425-737-7404 or annas firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general camping contact Judy Sage at 360-775-6500.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at email@example.com at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.