By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — This Sunday, The Farmers’ Museum will be hosting its 18th Annual Benefit Horse Show, a competition that raises money for educational programs at the museum.
“It’s evolved into a very big, very beautiful show,” said Meg Preston, horse show secretary and the office manager at The Farmers’ Museum, who has been involved with the show since it first began.
Preston, said that the equestrian tradition of the Clark family helped to inspire the show’s founding. The Clark family helped found The Farmer’s Museum, as well as a number of other Cooperstown institutions, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It’s such a rich history with the Clark family and their equestrian background,” said Preston.
She also said that Jane Forbes Clark II, an avid horsewoman herself and the current chairman of The Farmers’ Museum, was involved in the show’s founding.
Taking place at Iroquois Farm Showgrounds, 1527 County Highway 33, Cooperstown, the show features 11 different divisions. Each division has three to four classes in it, with entry into each class costing $15 for non-stake classes and $25 in stake classes. For a rider to become grand champion of a division, they typically must compete in all classes in a division.
“Generally they do but not always,” said Preston.
The divisions at the show are divided into hunter divisions, which are judged primarily on jumping form, equitation divisions, which are judged primarily on rider form, a pleasure division, which is judged primarily on how much fun a horse and rider appear to be having, and a walk-trot and a beginner division, which typically attract younger riders. In addition to the divisions, there is a leadline class, which generally features very young children riding on a horse while an assistant holds a leadline.
“They just look really adorable,” said Preston.
Most classes in the show are also awarded points by the Chensego Hunter Association Inc., which go towards the points standings in the association.
Something that sets the horse show at The Farmers’ Museum apart are the jumps, a number of which have been crafted in the shape of iconic Cooperstown area landmarks, such as the carousel at The Farmers’ Museum, Kingfisher Tower and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“They were all created here at The Farmers’ Museum … through our carpentry shop,” said Preston.
All registration for competitors is done on the day of the event.
“We never know until the day of (how many competitors will show up),” said Preston, who said that they had a good turn out of over 60 competitors last year. “We hope to so see the same if not more (this year).”
Admission to watch the show is free.
There is also a luncheon under a tented area with ring-side seating. Tickets to the luncheon are $50 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under.
“We could have a few hundred people throughout the day between everything going on,” said Preston, including competitors and their families in these numbers.
All money raised from the horse show and surrounding activities goes to educational programs at The Farmers’ Museum after expenses. A crucial component of this fundraising effort comes in the form of sponsors.
“If it weren’t for our sponsors it would be very difficult to have a benefit,” said Preston.
Preston said she used to ride in horse shows when she was younger, but has never competed in the show at The Farmers’ Museum. This year, however, her daughter will be competing, in what will be her first competition.
“It’s so great to have a local horse show,” said Preston, who said that every year the show has gotten bigger. “It’s a very different show than it was 18 years ago.”