Monday, September 14, 2009

Horse lovers by hundreds turn out in Thousand Oaks to help groups

By Mike Harris
 Hundreds of people celebrated the equestrian lifestyle Saturday at the fifth annual Day of the Horse gala in Thousand Oaks to benefit two local nonprofit organizations.
The free event at Conejo Creek Equestrian Park featured riding demonstrations, equestrian-related vendors, a children’s scavenger hunt, a silent auction, pizza and refreshments for sale, and more.
Hosted by ETI Corral 37, the celebration benefited Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship, which teaches horseback riding to people with physical and mental disabilities, and California Coastal Horse Rescue, which provides food, shelter, rehabilitation, medical care and adoption services for horses that have been abused, abandoned or neglected.
Proceeds from the auction and the food sales went toward buying hay for the two organizations.
“Today has been incredible,” said event chairwoman Barbara Kloster. “We’ve had more people than we’ve ever had before. The pizza is selling. The silent auction is going great. So many people have donated different things. And these equestrians have put on the most phenomenal show for free.”
Pointing to the packed grandstand where spectators watched the riding demonstrations, Kloster said, “These people haven’t moved. They’re just so rapt with what they’re seeing.”
About 1 p.m., there were a few hundred people in attendance, but Kloster said the overall attendance at that point was closer to a thousand, noting that people had been coming and going throughout the day.
Watching eight women equestrians in traditional Mexican dresses and sombreros ride in formation for the crowd as traditional Mexican music played over loudspeakers, Eric Meyer of Thousand Oaks said he has attended all five Day of the Horse celebrations.
Attending the event with his daughter Annalise, 12, Meyer said he appreciated seeing “all the different riding styles. This is the first I’ve see the Mexican styles.”
Joy Woodruff of Westlake Village attended with her two young daughters, Kendra and Amanda.
“We’re all big horse lovers, especially my little one, Amanda, who is here to watch everybody and hopefully someday be just like them,” Woodruff said. “We all ride a little, but we’re not lucky enough to have a horse.”
Lynne Mann, a member of ETI Corral 37, walked with her two miniature horses.
“They’re here to demonstrate that miniature horses are horses, too,” Mann said. “They’re called American miniature horses and they’re actually horses, not ponies.”