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These folks just love to ride their horses

By Staff | Jan 21, 2019

Horse enthusiasts of all ages are members of the Frost Saddle Club and the Gopher Saddle Club in Winnebago. The groups get together for horse riding activities including some contests at the horse arena located at the Faribault County Fair fairgrounds in Blue Earth.

Did you know Faribault County has two saddle clubs?

It is true. The Frost Border Riders (FBR) and the Gopher Saddle Club of Winnebago are both based in Faribault County.

Just what is a saddle club, you ask? To get more information, the Faribault County Register spoke with equine enthusiast and Frost Border Riders member Stacy Huntington-Scofield, who is also on the Board of Directors for the Western Saddle Clubs Association (WSCA) in Minnesota, to learn more.

A saddle club, according to Huntington-Scofield, is an organization of people interested in a multitude of equestrian (or horse)-based activities. These clubs promote safe and enjoyable experiences to anyone interested in participating.

The WSCA explains it is their mission “to promote good horsemanship and sportsmanship skills and practices to enrich members’ experiences with their horses and also to promote the use of horses for personal and family enjoyment and competition.”

“Essentially, a single saddle club, like the Frost Border Riders or the Gopher Saddle Club, is a smaller group of people who enjoy equestrian activities and a large collection of saddle clubs across the midwest make up the WSCA,” says Huntington-Scofield. “The WSCA has many different activities and functions throughout the year.”

Huntington-Scofield gives an analogy of the U.S. Government to better understand the branches of club associations throughout the area.

“Think of the WSCA as the Federal Government, South Central Saddle Clubs Association (SCSCA) as the State Government, and local saddle clubs like Frost Border Riders, Gopher in Winnebago, and the Fairmont Saddle Club as the local government,” she says. “We all work together, yet separately.”

The Frost Border Riders belong to the SCSCA, which in turn belongs to the WSCA. The SCSCA is primarily comprised of 10 saddle clubs which each hold their own horse show throughout the year.

Currently the FBR’s President is Marlin Krupp of Elmore, with Karen Huntington as the club’s Secretary/Treasurer and Mandy Huntington-Groe and Huntington-Scofield, herself, are delegates.

Other saddle clubs, including the Gopher Saddle Club in Winnebago, have saddle club queens who not only represent their clubs, but are able to participate in a WSCA Queen’s Contest each September at the WSCA?Championship Show at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. The WSCA Championship show is the largest open (all breeds of horses are accepted) show in the US.

“It’s like the Super Bowl of horse shows,” says Huntington-Scofield who was a former club queen herself, and has been a member of the Frost Border Riders since 1980, when her family moved to Blue Earth. Before that, she belonged to the Wilton River Riders Saddle Club based in Waseca.

“I’ve been riding horse since I was two,” says Huntington-Scofield. “My first pony’s name was Misty. In 1997, I was severely injured in a horse show and took a brief hiatus from riding. While I am not actively showing or riding this year, I’m not totally retired yet. I announce our horse show and a handful of others throughout the summer as well as announcing the WSCA Championship Show.”

The avid horse-enthusiast also states the most common types of horses in the area are the stock-type or Quarter Horse, with a good portion of American Paint Horses, Palominos, Buckskins, Appaloosa Horses, Ponies of America, grade or non-register ponies and horse, as well as some Arabians, Pintos and Morgan horses. She says it is all about diversity and that a saddle club can be a benefit to any community.

“When hosting a horse show, like we do in Blue Earth every year, it supports tourism and brings dollars into the community.These families eat at our restaurants, purchase fuel for their rigs, camp at the fairgrounds, and even buy hay, grain, and feed from local dealers. Throughout the summer there are at least three SCSCA?horse shows held at the Faribault County Fairgrounds which bring in exhibitors and their families from as far away as Sleepy Eye, Redwood Falls, Shakopee, Waseca and Mankato,” says Huntington-Scofield. “Our local 4-H club also uses the arena at the fairgrounds for clinics and their show during the Faribault County Fair.”

She says if you have not checked it out, sandwiched between the horse barn of the Faribault County Fairgrounds and the Green Giant is a lovely sand-filled arena where these horse shows and 4-H horse activities are held. If you drive by the site on May 19, or July 7, you will see dozens of horse trailers of all sizes.

“Kids as young as two riding ponies and teens gathered on horseback in packs without cell phones in their hands,” laughs Huntington-Scofield. “Middle aged dads try to outshine their kids and seniors have some of the best, fanciest and fastest horses around. The diversity and inclusivity of the saddle clubs and the people who comprise them continues to astound me. You’ll see hundred-thousand dollar living-quarters horse trailers parked alongside rusty, two-horse bumper pull trailers and the owners of each sharing a laugh, a drink, and sometimes even a hug.”

While competition is the reason saddle club members attend horse shows, Huntington-Scofield says it is the community and support from each other that keeps everyone returning to the competitions.

The local FBR member says any students or young adults interested in learning about horses and riding should start with their local 4-H program, or talk to someone who provides horse riding lessons. She also says it takes nothing but a small annual due and helping out at the July horse show to become a member of the Frost Border Riders Saddle Club.

“Other than a love for and interest in horses, belonging to our saddle club is that simple. Other clubs may have additional standards, but we are very laid back and welcoming,” she says. “Belonging to FBR and WSCA has provided me with opportunities for leadership, personal growth, and a sense of community which has strongly influenced every facet of my life.”

Currently, the FBR has approximately 30 members. At one point in the 1990s, they had over 55 members. The age range for current members starts at about 10 years old and tops at about 85 years old. They have members in all corners of Faribault County including Blue Earth, Frost, Winnebago, Delavan, Elmore, Minnesota Lake, Bricelyn, Easton and Kiester.

Whether you just like watching, or you are an avid barrel racer yourself, the world of equestrian comradery and competition is practically in your backyard.