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From back country trail riding to arena competition in dressage, over jumps and alongside cattle, California associations offer rich experiences on a horse -- and next to friends. Here are some of the best.

From Horsetrader staff reports - January 16th, 2014 - Special Section

Back Country Horsemen of California
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Backcountry Horsemen promotes public awareness and interest in the historical aspect of horsemen and stock in the backcountry while helping to educate back country users on ways to use the trail and forage in a manner that conserves the back country resources. Stop by their booth at Horse Expo Feb. 7-9 at the Fairplex during Horse Expo Pomona (http://bit.ly/Expo_BCH) or visit the group’s website. They would love to have you join them on their next ride and project!

This spring in Norco, on March 21-23, BCHC Rendezvous will follow its a tradition of outdoor enthusiasts gathering together. The event will feature equine training clinicians, scores of vendors, horse and mule packing seminars, Gentle Use/Leave No Trace classes, a Western art show, awards and accolades, a Dutch oven cook-off, trail trials, beer and wine tasting, cowboy church, youth classes, raffles and auction. There is always a lot to learn, tons of fun, and plenty of horses and mules at the Backcountry Horsemen Rendezvous!

California Dressage Society
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The California Dressage Society was formed in 1967 as a non-profit organization to further interest in dressage. It is now one of the largest dressage organizations in the nation, with more than 4,000 members. CDS sponsors various educational events such as clinics, instructors’ seminars and Annual Meetings as well as the Annual Championship Show. The USDF / Great American Regional Finals are held in conjunction with this show to determine standings for USDF and USEF.

CDS is made up of 34 Chapters throughout the state. The chapters operate rather independently under the CDS By-Laws and an elected governing board of volunteers, which is responsible for local shows and educational and social events. CDS offers educational activities on a statewide basis, includes Riding Seminars, Instructor Seminars, National Symposiums and Judges’ Forums. The local chapters sponsor clinics, competitions, films, discussion and informal schooling sessions.

California Reining Horse Assn.
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The California Reining Horse Association has long been the leader of reining events in Southern California. For over 20 years, the CRHA has remained one of the top affiliates in the National Reining Horse Association, boasting a large membership and slate of quality events,led by the CHRA’s flagship show, the California Challenge, held each October at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. It continues to rank as a top reining show nationally, and the CRHA jackpot series offer nice shows and prizes for people entering the sport.

The future looks very bright for Southern California reining. Once again in 2014, the Challenge will host the NRHA Southwestern Regional Affiliate Finals,with more than $100,000 in cash and prizes to exhibitors that will be up for grabs along with other great prizes. The 2013 Challenge awarded six saddles, a horse trailer, dozens of buckles and other great loot to successful competitors. Several clinics are in the works already for this year and our first NRHA event, run concurrently with our first jackpot shows, will be held March 28-30 at the L.A. Equestrian Center. Be sure to check out the CRHA website for more info and for the club’s upcoming events, which also are found on Horsetrader.com.

Equestrian Trails, Inc.
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Why does ETI exist and why should Corrals and members get involved? The ETI mission statement says it best: “Dedicated to Equine Legislation, Good Horsemanship, and the Acquisition and Preservation of Trails, Open Space and Public Lands.”

ETI is constantly working to protect our horse-keeping rights and our equestrian lifestyle. Riding the trails and communicating with local, state and federal agencies allows us to maintain and expand our riding areas. Clinics and seminars help improve our horsemanship. Working together with our legislators protects our lifestyle. These are the overall benefits of joining and being involved in ETI. Another key factor is simply that a group has a stronger voice than an individual. United, we can influence the laws, ordinances, and policies that affect our ability to have and enjoy our equines in the present and in the future.

ETI is organized into local “Corrals” which sponsor activities both on the trail and in the arena – events like day rides, weekend campouts and longer trips in various areas. Clinics and seminars are offered in a variety of topics from riding to health issues. Horse shows, gymkhanas, drill teams, mounted assistant units, and other activities offer members many options for fun and competition with their horse. Being able to ride in new areas with a guide allows Corral members to benefit by participating in each other’s activities – and sharing the labor. Networking offers support, ideas and assistance for all members.

You’ll find ETI’s monthly newsletter in the Horsetrader – this month’s is on page 66.

Greater San Diego Hunter Jumper Assn.
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The Greater San Diego Hunter Jumper Association was created in 2001 to better service the San Diego hunter-jumper community. It has more than 1,000 members – and it’s growing every year. The purpose of the GSDHJA is to offer the exhibitor, from beginner to advanced, the opportunity to learn and show at quality horse shows in an atmosphere that creates enthusiasm, effort, and a sense of accomplishment. By working together with horse show managers for quality control, GSDHJA assures exhibitors quality facilities, well maintained and appropriate show jumps, and the use of proper course design for all recognized shows. GSDHJA recognizes over 60 horse shows throughout the year at different venues in San Diego — even in Orange County. Participating horse shows offer classes from Walk-Trot to the 4′ Open Jumpers and competing members can earn points to qualify for year-end awards in 40 different divisions.

The club is proud to have provided beautiful custom tack trunks for division high-point winners, perpetual trophies, a Sportsmanship Trophy, and Achievement Awards. The Championship Horse Show will be held Oct.7-12 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and offers all regular division classes as well as a Hunter Derby, an Equitation Challenge, Hunt Teams of Three, Take Your Own Line Jumpers, Costume Class, and Lead Line. GSDHJA is dedicated to advancing our sport by offering members quality horse shows, promoting fairness and sportsmanship, and providing educational opportunities like clinics and our Horsemanship Challenge. 

Southern California Reined Cow Horse Assn.
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The sport of reined cow horse is fascinating, where three events – reining, herd work (cutting) and cow work — combine with a rich vaquero history. One of the fastest-growing reined cow horse associations, the SCRCHA, has a friendly membership that is passionate about their horses and the reined cow horse discipline. The purpose of the SCRCHA is to improve the quality of the Western reined stock horse, to perpetuate the early Spanish traditions of highly trained and well reined working cow horses, to promote exhibits and cow horse events and contests in expositions and shows, to promote the training of reined cow horses and to promote interest in reined working cow horses among the younger horsemen in the Southern California region and to use and encourage the use of standard rules for holding and judging contests of the reined working cow horse.

The Temecula-based club puts on seven to eight quality events each year, including the Sherri Gilkerson Memorial in May and its annual Saddle Shoot Out in October. All of our events are held at various facilities in the Temecula area. This is a fun organization of people that is very welcoming and open to new participants. Come out and watch a show, talk with the list of trainers or others involved.

Valley Center Vaqueros
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Since 1960, Valley Center Vaqueros has been a family-oriented horse club in northern San Diego County. Throughout the year, the VC Vaqueros have several horse shows, all of which are very affordable and a great way to get you and your horse prepared for bigger events. VCV also participates in several parades during the year. As a member, you are able to access the Equestrian Park, and use it when no other events are going on.

One of those is fast approaching – the exciting “Day of the Horse” event, Saturday, Feb. 1 This fun, educational and free event will have something for everyone, from non-horse owner to the professional horseman. See the VCV website for more information about this great club and coming events.

Valley Cow Horse Assn.
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The Valley Cow Horse Association is a well-established affiliate of the National Reined Cow Horse Association, and it offers classes for everyone from the open trainer to the novice rider in the “Green as Grass” class. The VCHA is one of the fastest-growing in California, offering nine show dates in 2014, including a $15,000-added money Derby and Bridle Spectacular, as well as a November Futurity and Bridle Spectacular.

The VCHA has many incentives for its members, including perfect attendance awards, four year-end saddles and year-end buckles in each of the VCHA classes. The club strives to meet the needs of all its members in the areas of class diversity and lower entry fees, and its leaders are excited with the new year, looking forward to a fantastic 2014 show season with a warm welcome of all returning — as well as new — members!

West Coast Reining Horse Assn.
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With its strong leadership and talented membership, the WCRHA has grown to be the largest NRHA Affiliate club anywhere, and in 2013 it was the most formidable in the show pen, too, as the Northwest Region last November won the 2013 Adequan NAAC Team Championship, sponsored by SmartPak.

The WCRHA, formed in 1982, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the reining horse. The family-oriented club provides a forum for exhibitors, breeders, and anyone interested in the sport of reining, and it consists of horse-lovers and showmen who are interested in sharing their love of the reining performance horse with like-minded people. WCRHA members pride themselves on providing a venue in which reining equestrians can build long-lasting friendships and working relationships between themselves, their trainer, and their fellow competitors.

The competition here is very supportive and friendly with everyone from beginners to the veteran. Whether a seasoned showman with great aspirations or a beginner who wants to learn to “ride the slide,” WCRHA provides a host of options to meet everyone’s needs. WCRHA shows usually include sponsored BBQs or breakfasts where competitors and their families can enjoy the environment that is uniquely “horse oriented.”

Yucaipa Valley Horse Show Assn.
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The mission of YVHSA is to provide an enjoyable show opportunity for all riders, regardless of experience, discipline or breed of horse. This friendly club offers several classes and multiple divisions for youth, adults, amateurs and professionals. It strives to provide you with all the information you need on its website in order for you to be well-prepared for the YVHSA shows, which run smoothly and efficiently. The nice equestrian facility of this community-oriented club also hosts the local 4-H club.

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