Despite an outbreak of Equine Vesicular Stomatitis that has led to the cancellation of several horse shows this fall in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Horse Show Association (RMHSA), based in Denver, turned an obstacle into an opportunity. On September 12, the inaugural Virtual Colorado Fall Charity Horse Show became a reality.
“Our horse show exhibitors here in Colorado were really disheartened when our horse shows had to be canceled,” said Virtual Show Manager Shari Ashley. “RMHSA decided that if we couldn’t have a real horse show, we can have a virtual one.”
Turnout was high for this single-performance Friday evening horse show and exhibitors’ party. The event was held at the historic Stockyards Saloon next to Denver’s National Western Events Center. Twelve classes were held for Open, American Saddlebred, Morgan and Arabian horses, with exhibitors “virtually” showing their horses. Entry blanks instead of invitations were sent, and the entry fee covered the cost of the first “class” as well as a delicious Italian dinner. A virtual Horse Show Office with the usual real chaos was set up. Real ribbon girls presented real ribbons and trophies when the virtual classes were tied. And real equines as well as imaginary ones participated, albeit virtually.
The most exciting win went to Barbara Cockriel, wife of famed Colorado horse trainer Martin Cockriel. Barb has attended hundreds of horse shows in the past sixty-plus years but has never once shown a horse. Her win, “riding” World Champion Fine Harness horse WC Catalytic (formerly owned by Martin) led to a standing ovation for Barb.
But perhaps the best part of the show was opening the session with an impromptu singing of the National Anthem. All participants stood, with hands over hearts, and sang with gusto, although perhaps a bit out of tune.
“Our virtual horse show raised a lot of money that will go towards next year’s real horse show,” says Virtual Horse Show Secretary Farra Baker. “We had worried that the VS scare might lead to the permanent demise of our fall show, and we’re thrilled that the show will indeed go on next year.”
For more information about RMHSA and its affiliate horse show, the Colorado Fall Charity Horse Show, visit ShowMeTheRibbons.com.