September 2020 - Woodside Day of the Horse Celebration
Written by by Nan Meek
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:25
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2020: Let’s Ride This Out Together!

by Nan Meek

How do you continue a 16-year tradition that includes an art show, a costume-themed trail ride, and a family fun horse fair amidst pandemic restrictions and the long-term impact of devastating wildfires?

If you are the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) you get creative with plans for the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse celebration on October 9, 10, and 11. Why – because these events have a greater purpose than simply providing equestrian entertainment.

 


The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) kicked off the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse theme of “The Roaring 20s” at the Folger Estate Stable at Wunderlich Park, with WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo and her husband Wilver; and horses owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp and her husband Peter Van Vlasselaer: Hide and Seeker, and Prime Delivery. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

An advocacy organization, the mission of WHOA! is to preserve the fundamental role of horses in maintaining the rural character of the Town of Woodside and neighboring foothill communities, to enhance opportunities for equestrian activities, and to promote the enjoyment of horses in all their various roles.

There has never been a time when this mission has been more critical. Home-bound, stressed-out families are looking for ways to share quality family time, enjoy outdoor recreation, and find new educational experiences for their children. Now, those activities are even more essential in the aftermath of unprecedented wildfires.

This year, the events that have come to define Woodside Day of the Horse will be partly online and partly in person, observing the restrictions and respecting the safety of visitors and participants alike.

This year’s theme – The Roaring 20s – gives visitors to Woodside Day of the Horse events (online and in person) license to bring the bling to their own and their horses’ attire, whether kicking up their heels dancing the Charleston or just dressing the part for fun and fantasy.

Art of the Horse exhibition. Photo: Nan Meek

Friday, Oct. 9
Art of the Horse

Last year’s Art of the Horse exhibition drew a standing room only crowd, but this year’s restrictions on the size of public gatherings meant this exhibition needed to move online, to the Day of the Horse section of the WHOA! web site.

Bay Area artists are invited to submit up to three two-dimensional or three-dimensional artworks. Visitors to the website may vote for 12 of their favorite pieces, and the winning artwork will appear on the WHOA! 2021 Calendar. Complete information can be found on the WHOA! web site at whoa94062.org on the Day of the Horse dropdown menu.

Art of the Horse celebrates the beauty of horses, provides a focus for artists and those who appreciate art, and creates a way to share that beauty beyond our barns and stables into the wider community in which our horses exist.

Nordic warrior goddesses on the trail. Photo: Nan Meek

Saturday, Oct. 10
Progressive Trail Ride

This is where creatively costumed riders come to play! It is as much fun for the spectators as it is for the riders, who travel the Town of Woodside trails dressed to fit the theme. This year, the theme is “The Roaring 20s” which could be interpreted as a flapper dress over skin tone tights, or an elaborately embroidered vintage western shirt, or a smartly tailored hacking jacket and billowing vintage breeches, to name just a few options.

This year’s ride will be socially distanced, with 6+ feet of space observed not only by trail riders but also by volunteers at ride stops. The route will be shortened, as well, to minimize its impact on local trails. Because large trailer staging areas are unavailable this year, ride organizers expect a smaller, more local group of riders than in previous years.

As well as simply enjoying one of the most beautiful trail ride locations on the map, riders take away a meaningful experience of the Woodside trails that informs the word they help spread to their friends, family, and neighbors. Call it personal networking, or free publicity, it helps maintain the community’s reputation as “Woodside is horse country”.

Farrier demo at Horse Fair. Photo: Nan Meek

Sunday, Oct. 11
Family Fun Horse Fair

Exciting plans are underway to combine a virtual Horse Fair online with a drive-through Horse Fair in person, at the Woodside Town Center where previous Horse Fairs have traditionally been held.

Online at the WHOA! web site, a variety of local equestrian organizations and businesses, which would normally have a booth at the Horse Fair, instead have a virtual Horse Fair booth in the form of videos that showcase their work.

In person, the drive-through Horse Fair takes the now-familiar graduation or birthday parade and just adds horses. Depending on the restrictions in effect on the day, Horse Fair organizers plan to feature ponies, horses, demonstrations, and photo opportunities that can be experienced from inside visitors’ vehicles.

Woodside Day of the Horse’s Family Fun Horse Fair is renowned for introducing ponies and horses to children and adults for the first time. Giving them a glimpse into the equestrian lifestyle fosters greater understanding of the role horses can and do hold in modern life, raising awareness of the benefits of horses to our community.

Funding the Future, Advancing the Mission

Donations made by WHOA! to support the equestrian community are made possible through funds raised during its iconic Woodside Day of the Horse celebration and through its generous sponsors. Donations such as the following make it possible to advance the mission of WHOA!

Wilver Chancholo with Hide and Seeker, owned by Peter Van Vlasselaer. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Fundraising for Fire Rescue and Relief

WHOA! is supporting the work of The Woodside Community Foundation with a $10,000 donation and community outreach to raise funds for large animal rescue and relief due to the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. Those who can donate, please visit https://woodsidegiving.org/what-we-fund/local-disaster-relief-fund.html to help those who have lost so much.

Central Trail Bridge Project

Woodside’s Center Trail has been used by equestrians for more than 100 years, but in 2017 the combination of torrential rains and upstream natural debris washed out the equestrian bridge over Bear Gulch Creek. Center Trail is an essential link between northern and southern segments of the Woodside trail system, so equestrian organizations and individuals stepped up to make this project happen.

WHOA! is proud to have donated $25,000 of the $200,000+ needed to construct the new clear span bridge and trail segment that reopened in July.

WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo with Prime Delivery, owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award

A deep interest in the next generation of equestrians and a commitment to helping them achieve worthwhile goals brought WHOA! and the Mounted Patrol Foundations (MPF) together to each donate $5,000 toward the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award. This is especially relevant at a time when financial assistance with education expenses is even more important to the next generation of equestrians.

Homestead High School senior Rebecca Refaee was awarded this year’s scholarship based on her equestrian involvement, academic excellence, and contribution to the community.

Community Care during COVID

Enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities is at the heart of the mission of WHOA! When the COVID pandemic turned life upside down, WHOA! took steps to support the local equestrian community by donating  $1,500 to a local equestrian program. Those funds provided a financial bridge to a more permanent solution for the economic challenges created by this pandemic.

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of our times, WHOA! pledges to stay on course to continue its mission of preserving the fundamental role of horses and enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities by promoting the enjoyment of horses in their various roles. For more information about WHOA! or to make a donation to support its mission, please visit: https://whoa94062.org/
Sincere thanks to the Town of Woodside, the Woodside Community Foundation, and WHOA! sponsors, volunteers, community members and everyone who participates in Woodside Day of the Horse. Let’s ride this out together!