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Show Horse Community Rallies Behind UPHA Barn Challenge

by Bob Funkhouser

One of the best programs initiated by the United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA) has had nothing to do with the show ring, prize money or national titles. That is, unless you consider bonding together to raise significant amounts of money for medical endeavors that in one way or another touch all of us, worthy to be called National Champion.

We most recently witnessed the power of the show horse community’s giving back to the real world with the Ribbons Of Service presentation at the UPHA National Convention in Boston. The program honored the youth of our industry who raised money for the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the miraculous work they do. If you were in that room and listened to the testimonial from the father of a St. Jude’s patient who had been given a death sentence by doctors until the family was introduced to St. Jude’s you would fully understand what a wonderful thing this is. Because of groups like the UPHA and its Pink Ribbon program, St. Jude’s can do miraculous things and today that nine-year-old girl is alive and well.

The testimonial struck a chord in every person in that room and I believe everyone left with a great sense of pride knowing that as a group that enjoys the privilege of owning and showing horses and ponies, we have been able to make a positive impact on the lives of many.

Paving the way for the Ribbons Of Service program has been the UPHA’s Pink Ribbon program, which in 2010 had 39 horse shows around the country participate in raising funds for breast cancer research. The program’s grand finale each year is the American Royal and the Pink Ribbon Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship.

Many of our trainers and exhibitors have been affected in some form or fashion by this terrible disease and with the leadership of Ann Rowland, another dimension was added to the UPHA/American Royal’s fund raising efforts: the Barn Challenge. This past year was the second edition of the Barn Challenge and 14 establishments participated and through their efforts raised more than $20,000.

The Challenges included: Infinity versus Grey Ridge, Abby Road versus Mariways, Fairview Farm versus Royal Winds, Glendale Stables versus Cascade Stables, Fairfield South versus Kierson, Carriage Lane, versus West Wind and Majestic Oaks versus Verrill Stables.

Eleven hundred and ninety dollars was raised in the Infinity/Grey Ridge Challenge with Infinity the winner. Fairfield South came out on top with its challenge of Kierson with a total of $2,180 raised between the two. The Fairfield South team sold horse treats and held a community horse show. Verrill Stables met its goal but challenger Majestic Oaks came in with a higher sum. Together they put $1,100 in the kitty.

Abby Road challenged Mariways to raise $250. Abby Road came through with $746.40. Courtney Morrill, one of the Abby Road parents/student had a connection to Premier Jewelry and proved to be the perfect way to raise money, purchase Christmas gifts and even a little Bling for themselves. About 30 women gathered at Kelly Stewart’s house to feast on delicious foods, enjoy pomegranate margaritas and shop for a good cause! On the other side of the aisle, Mariways raised money in memory of Annalisa Hall’s mother and they brought $1,550 to the challenge giving the two barns a total of $2,296.40.

Carriage Lane came through as the champion of their match up with West Wind Stables. Clients gave donations in honor of friends and family who have been touched by the illness: Traci Garcia in memory of her mother Margaret Muth, Carol Hillenbrand in memory of Jane Mueller, Ceil Wheeler in memory of Sallie B. Wheeler, John and Tammie Conatser in honor of Kayce Bell, and the Deknatel Family in honor of friends who have been touched by breast cancer. Together they raised $2,950.

Longtime friends, members of Glendale Stables and Cascade Stables went head to head. Cascade Stables met their $500 challenge from Glendale, however, Kent and Stacey Swalla’s barn brought in $3,854. They held a Chili Cook-Off with 19 different kinds of chili entered. Sandy Backer Cherry won with a White Chicken Chili. In addition to the cook-off, the Glendale Stables family sold pink barn t-shirts and pink bracelets, and had a "No Stirrup Challenge" during the day of the cook-off. People were able to sponsor a rider from a dollar a lap and up. To round out the afternoon there was a silent auction with an array of items.

The big winner came from the Fairview Farm/Royal Winds showdown where for the second consecutive year, Bob and Tonya Brison’s Fairview Farm raised the highest total of the challenge: $6,178. The Brisons and their customers held two bake sales at local horse shows, sold wrist bands for donations, got on the phone and called a lot of businesses and friends and one morning at the American Royal they held a pancake breakfast in front of their tack room. All in all, they raised $6,178. For their efforts, Fairview Farm won a banner for their tack room that was donated by Gayle Lampe and a 2011 UPHA American Royal package that included a free box seat, free stalls, exhibitor’s passes and parking passes.

There was also a drawing for all the barns that participated. Mariways won a pair of pink clippers donated by Carol Henry. Cascade Stables won a decorated tack room by Jules Carman, Carriage Lane won $1,000 of landscaping at the 2011 Kentucky State Fair from Cherry Landscaping Service, Glendale Stables won a black and white ad from Saddle Horse Report and Fairfield South took home a 16 x 24 certificate from Howie Schatzberg.

Giving back to such worthy causes is bringing the members of the UPHA together from all parts of the country with a common goal, a common cause. This togetherness can only bring good things in a number of ways, most of all, helping to give hope to those who desperately need it.

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