COLUMBIA — Spiffy riding attire, polished tack, and meticulously groomed horses created a colorful atmosphere Thursday at the 20th Calvary Episcopal Charity Horse Show.
It was the first day of the show, which ends Saturday, at the Central Missouri Events Center on the Boone County Fairgrounds. The event raises money for three charities.
Show Secretary Sandy Backer said roughly 150 horses were registered to compete. Most of them live in Missouri; their owners live around the country.
"They truly do come from all different states," she said, including one rider who came from California to compete with her horse, who is boarded in New Bloomfield, Mo.
Kathy Reiber, who has been involved in showing horses for more than 30 years participated in the show with her horse Rutger F Fan E Boppelannen — "Rutger" for short — who is housed at Glendale Stables about 14 miles northeast of Columbia. Although Reiber and her husband, Ron, now live in the Kansas City suburb of Gardner, Kan., she travels to Boone County two to three times each week to train Rutger.
Originally from south St. Louis County, she grew up without enough money or land on which to ride. Reiber fell in love with horses and began collecting Breyer horse figurines. To satisfy her longing to ride, she would save her money for trail rides when her family took vacations.
After graduating from MU with a degree in photojournalism, she stayed in Columbia and worked in the emergency room at Boone Hospital Center, which offered educational stipends. After receiving one of these stipends, she was able to attend classes at the equine department of Stephens College.
Not only does equestrian training take a lot of time, it also takes a lot of effort — Reiber does 500 crunches and 500 leg squeezes daily to stay fit enough to ride her horse.
"You have to want to do it," Reiber said. "You have to be willing to accept that it is dangerous. It takes a real team effort. It's about your personal best."
The Calvary Episcopal Charity Horse Show moved to the Central Missouri Events Center on the Boone County fairgrounds after being held in the Midway Expo Center for 19 years, before a two-year hiatus. Facility manager C.W. Adams and assistants Brent Gibson and Mike Teel were honored after Thursday's show for their work in helping bring the event to the venue.
The show started 22 years ago when leaders at Calvary Episcopal Church met one night to discuss ways to increase their outreach efforts. The church noted that there was a lot of horse interest not just within its congregation but in mid-Missouri as well. What started as a one-night event has grown into a three-day celebration.
Entering this year, the show has raised $250,000 for charity.
"We hope to be a horse show around for a long time and do a lot more good," founder and contestant Janet Thompson said.
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