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The Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Association held the year-end Awards Banquet last month at the historic Montanaro place. It was called a banquet, but it was really a jolly evening in an old farm store. It was almost like an extended family party, because these people have enjoyed riding together at the Equestrian Center. There were mothers and fathers and grandpas and kids all visiting together around the big stone fireplace.

The amazing numbers of riders, spectators and events at the Center have grown so significantly in recent years that Board members may be considering having little statues of their President David Hunsicker mounted on their dashboards. The amazing thing is that all the events are put on by volunteers. Mark Gowing chairs the sorting and team penning, Paula Merrell puts on Couples and Family rides, the Super Cow Horse, Oktoberfest and the year-end Awards Banquet. Tracy Ward holds the jumping events, Melissa Moore is chairman of the Western Horse and Mule Show, and Kathy Fortier and Lena Williams hold those amusing gymkhana events. There are also Jr. Rodeo events and Cutting shows at the Equestrian Center.

Sorting Series

The Sorting Series was exciting, as those placing first won Cactus Western saddles. Those in second place won Skyline Silversmith buckles, and third-place finishers won beautiful Yucca Flat saddle pads with embossed leather corners. Mark Gowing made the presentations.

Here are the big award winners:

Open Division: 1st Paula Merrell. 2nd Kelly Gowing. 3rd Chris Henrich. Limited Division: 1st Julie Esola. 2nd Bob Mott. 3rd Christine Burns. Novice: 1st Chip Wullbrandt. 2nd Jessica Mahl. For 3rd place, there was a tie between Linda Saarloos and Stacy Nance.

Western Horse and Mule shows

The Western Horse and Mule shows have been a great success this past year. They awarded prizes first through third place during the year, and year-end winners received silver buckles. Melissa Moore presented the honors.

Mules: Champion Nicole Batastini. Reserve: Emily Berman. Ranch Class: Champion Kim Gahan. Reserve: Peggy McAmis. Walk-Trot 12 and under: Champion: Trinity Belfato. Reserve: Olivia Berman. Youth and Amateur Limited: Champion Kendall Doud. Reserve: Kristen Martin. Youth and Amateur Open: Champion Sue Merchant. Reserve: Sue Merchant.

There were two special awards this year. The 50-and-over award went to Peggy McAmis. The other was presented to a lady who has been competing in the SYVEA shows since they began. She has shown in many classes and on several horses. Everyone noticed that she always had a wonderful attitude, win or lose. Patty Keefe was awarded the Red Bluff silver buckle. The amazing volunteers for these shows included Mr. “Voice of the Valley” Dick Peabody, Rick Mathis, Sandy and Pam Turnbull, Debbie Pearson, Gillian Kinnear and Roger Fortier. Donations to make these shows possible were received from:

Grand Meadows, Skelton Performance Horses, Amore Ranch Training Stables, Santa Ynez Feed, Platinum Performance, R-Destiny Ranch, Kenai Drilling, Rolled Oats Pottery, Santa Barbara Insuring Agency, Travelers Farm, Jedlicka’s, Show Off Time Horse Products, Christian C. Larson, Steven Golis, Paul Deats, Gail Kaiser, Jack and Janie Flammer, Novica, El Rancho Market, Horse Taxi, Charlie and Patsy Cappel, G. Rogers & Associates, Melissa Moore and All-American Trailers North.

Gymkhana events

Lena Williams presented the Gymkhana awards. The presentations started with the Lead-line winners. This class is for young children who are safer with an adult leading their horse. But it seems that they are always anxious to be good enough riders to ride alone.

1st Morgan Cossa. 2nd Sadie Veino, 3rd Sadie Grant. Ages 6 and Under: 1st Fallon Ruffoni. 2nd Josie Pereira. 3rd Gracen Hayes. Ages 7-9: 1st Braidyn Cossa. 2nd Riley Rimrodt. 3rd Aubrey Luis. Ages 10-12: 1st Sadie Levine. 2nd Samantha Cooper. 3rd Corrin Bowman. Ages 13-17: 1st Shelby Dugger. 2nd Melissa Fortier. 3rd A tie between Kendall Mickey and Audrey Ponce. Ages 18-29: 1st Casey Fowler. 2nd Raven Araujo, 3rd Haley Aquino. Ages 30 and Over: 1st Melissa Roberts. 2nd Jeanette Veino. 3rd Rhonda Ruffoni.


Outstanding participant and trainer Gwen Cates and Jean-Charles Sarri.