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Fri, 2012-05-18 09:52

Community Support Propels The Woodside Horse Trials

The people who live in and around Woodside, Calif., know horses.

Woodside is just a 30-minute drive south of San Francisco, but the locals have long been keen participants in and supporters of eventing and dressage, hunters and jumpers, polo and trail ring, and more. So, whether they’re riders, volunteers, sponsors or fans, the local community will be out in force at the Woodside Spring Horse Trials, on May 25-27.

And many of them will be celebrating the Woodside Spring Horse Trials at the fourth annual Woodside Preliminary Challenge Gala Dinner on Saturday evening, May 26.

The Preliminary Challenge Gala Dinner, held in a heated and perfectly decorated tent overlooking the Bay Arena, provides family, friends and fans with a special place to enjoy the unique competition’s exciting show jumping climax. Local wines, beer and soft drinks will be served while the horses are jumping, with a specially catered dinner—by Cahoots Catering of Paso Robles, Calif.— following the awards ceremony.

For the last three years, the gala dinner has been sold out, with some 300 people enjoying the food and hospitality and another 300-plus cheering from their own seats on the berm alongside the arena.

The Woodside Preliminary Challenge Gala Dinner starts on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m.

“This gala dinner has turned into something truly special—truly special for our fantastic local supporters and truly special for the riders who come from all over the West Coast to compete at Woodside,” said organizer Robert Kellerhouse. “Watching a great competition, eating a great dinner and drinking local wines while overlooking the gorgeous San Francisco Bay—it’s something you simply can’t do anywhere else.”

The Woodside Preliminary Challenge offers two divisions, each with $7,500 in prize money and $7.500 in prizes, including a Devoucoux saddle to the winner of the Rider division and a JRD saddle to the winner of the Horse division.

The Horse division is open to riders of any level of experience on horses that have not competed at the intermediate level or above from 2008 to 2012; the Rider division is open to all horses with riders who have not competed at the intermediate level or above from 2008 to 2012. Horses and riders must achieve two qualifying results at the preliminary level as a pair in order to compete.

Competitors in the Preliminary Challenge will ride their dressage tests on Friday and then gallop over Derek di Grazia’s panoramic cross-country course on Saturday morning. Then the show jumping climax begins at 6:20 on Saturday evening over a special show jumping course set in the Horse Park’s Bay Arena. The top 10 horses in each of the two Preliminary Challenge divisions will jump in front of the dinner guests, with awards to follow immediately afterward.

A total of 26 horses are entered in the Rider division, and 13 horses are entered in the Horse division, including two mounts for Erin Kellerhouse, winner of the Horse division at the 2011 Woodside Preliminary Challenge. She won’t be riding last year’s champion, Roxabella; instead she’ll be riding Bill’s Midnight Magic and Cat Ballou.

But there will be more going on at the Woodside Horse Trials than the Preliminary Challenge. Horses and riders will be competing at six levels, from advanced to beginner novice. The advanced, intermediate and preliminary divisions will gallop boldly over their cross-country courses on Saturday and then canter precisely around their show jumping courses on Sunday.

The trade fair, located next to the Bay Arena, will feature booths for the two presenting sponsors of the Woodside Preliminary Challenge—Professional’s Choice and Equine Insurance of California.

Professional’s Choice will bring a trailer with their full line of products and will be offering a 15-percent discount to all competitors. Purchasing $100 worth of Professional’s Choice products will earn a Woodside hat.

Equine Insurance of California offers a wide range of policies, including equine mortality, surgical and major medical, trainer and stable liability, horse owner’s insurance, workers’ compensation and employers’ liability,

The additional generous sponsors of the Woodside Horse Trials include: Auburn Laboratories Inc., Devoucoux Saddles, Equine Comfort Products, JRD Saddles, Ride On Video, Smartpak Equine, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Voltaire Design and Western Saddlery.

Proceeds from the Preliminary Challenge Gala Dinner benefit construction of the cross-country course at the Horse Park of Woodside.

To learn more about the Horse Park at Woodside or the Woodside Horse Trials, go to To learn more about eventing, visit the U.S. Eventing Association’s website ( 


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