Through the Roof! 2021 Woodside Day of the Horse Exceeded All Expectations

With its 17th annual Woodside Day of the Horse now behind them, Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and participants can reflect on the October 8-10 celebration, when reality exceeded all expectations.

“Through the roof!” exclaimed one young visitor when she was asked if she was having fun at the drive-through Family Fun Horse Fair. At the time, she was literally standing up through the roof of her father’s slowly moving vehicle, the better to see and video the variety of equine exhibits.

“Two years of adapting our traditional events to pandemic safety measures proved that the power of horses to attract people knows no limits,” remarkedWHOA! Steering Committee memberAnne Van Camp. “The Day of the Horse celebrations in 2020 and 2021 highlighted the resourcefulness and dedication of our team and many volunteers, who creatively reimagined the Day of the Horse weekend to continue the mission of WHOA! even during challenging times. Through all these years, the Town of Woodside and staff have been instrumental in the support of WHOA! and its goals.”

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.

This year’s Woodside Day of the Horse did exactly that, bringing smiles to the faces of visitors young and old alike. Whether riding the trails, driving through the horse fair, walking through the art show, or riding a pony for the first time, enjoyment of horses was indeed “through the roof”!

Saturday, October 9: “Oktoberfest” Trail Ride

How often do you see dirndl-clad and lederhosen-wearing riders ambling along the Town of Woodside trails? Other than during this year’s Woodside Day of the Horse Trail Ride, “never” is likely the answer. Blue skies and perfect temperatures brought out the best spirits, and the best costumes. In addition to riders dressed to reflect the “Oktoberfest” theme, there were some black-caped vampires, along with a few cowboys.

Ride stops throughout the riders’ route were decorated in “Oktoberfest” theme, although steins of lager were not served to horse or rider, to the disappointment of some. Carrots were handed out for horses, bottled water kept riders hydrated, and delicious sandwiches gave them a boost of energy.

“Volunteers ‘pulled out all the stops’ to decorate their ride stops,” said Jo Egenes, WHOA! Trial Ride Committee Chair. “They take a lot of pride in providing a great-looking stop and providing refreshments for horses and riders. There’s not another trail ride like this anywhere.”

Regardless of costume, 80 trail riders showed the fun of having horses in their lives to local residents out running their Saturday errands as well as to restaurant guests lunching outdoors. More than one rider was asked, “Can I pet your horse?” And more than one horse’s velvet muzzle made new friends for equines, one nuzzle at a time.

For a look at costumed trail riders and other activities from 2021 and prior years, visit the photo galleries athttps://whoa94062.org/media-gallery/.

Sunday, October 10: Horses Were Everywhere

Horse Fair:Expanding on the innovative drive-through Family Fun Horse Fair that was so popular last year, volunteers and exhibitors brought the world of horses to life for visitors of all ages. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Woodside Town Hall parking lot hosted a slow-moving parade of 286 people in 103 cars, including 170 children who received free plush pony “stuffies” to take home their own little horse.

Horses that spanned the variety of breeds and horse sports introduced horse fair visitors to: A giant Clydesdale, an elegant Andalusian, an exotic Gypsy Vanner, a sturdy Morgan, American Quarter Horses, and several cuddle-worthy ponies. Equestrian sports included Western, English, dressage, vaulting, and driving. Organizations spanned youth riding clubs, a vaulting club, and equine facilitated therapy. Educational demonstrations from veterinarians and a farrier sparked visitors’ interest, and live music set the tone … literally.

“We loved welcoming families to the drive-through version of the horse fair again this year,” Kristina Chancholo, WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair said. “It’s a delight to watch how engaged with the horses the children – and the adults – get, especially when an exhibitor brings a horse right up to the car window for them to pet. Horses really are the best ambassadors!

“I am so deeply thankful for all of the volunteers and exhibitors,” Kristina emphasized. “The horse fair could not happen without them. We cannot wait to welcome them back next year, along with our traditional supporters with their own live booths.”

Visitors can find horse fair exhibitors online any time athttps://whoa94062.org/horse-fair/.

Free Pony Rides plus a mini petting party filled the field next door to the Woodside Fire Station. From 11 a.m to 1:30 p.m., 167 children, accompanied by 200 adults, enjoyed free pony rides as well as petting time with both mini horses and a mini donkey.

Visitors to the pony ride site also had a chance to participate in the first-ever group art project, which resulted in an extra-large canvas featuring horse drawings and graffiti arrayed on a sky-blue background. The children’s excitement and happiness showed in the art work.

“Observing all the smiles of the children enjoying their very first horseback ride … just cannot be put into words!” remarked Anne Van Camp,WHOA! Steering Committee member.

Youth Art Show took place at the Village Hub just down Woodside Road from the pony rides. Children were able to bring in their artwork from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, with the art show open for viewing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Youth artists from age five through age thirteen exhibited an array of styles in a wide variety of mediums, all clearly demonstrating their true love of horses.

Every entrant won a Woodside Art of the Horse ribbon, and twelve works of art were chosen to feature in the 2022 WHOA! calendar. Their delightful artwork makes a fun splash of color every month.

“These kids represent our future,” remarked Don DeFranco, WHOA! Art Show Committee Chair, who organized both the Youth Art Show in person, and the online art show for all ages. “Most of them ride at local riding programs, so their love of the horse really shines through in their artwork.”

Youth artwork is online athttps://whoa94062.org/art-of-the-horse/.

All donations to WHOA! over $25 receive a 2022 WHOA! calendar featuring selected youth artists. To donate, simply click on the “donate” button at the top of the WHOA! web site athttps://whoa94062.org.

Online Art of the Horse: This year, the original in person art show was transformed into an online event. With 32 online booths, a variety of equine artists from across the country began showing their work online beginning October 8, continuing through November 8 athttps://my.boothcentral.com/v/events/woodside-art-of-the-horse-2021/.

Visit them to see photographs, paintings, sculptures, and more, or to purchase their work. To support the projects funded by WHOA! that help the equestrian community, a 10% buyers’ commission is included in these purchases.

Next year, WHOA! plans to return to a live art show, building on previous years’ success and innovation. Until then, visit the online Art of the Horse athttps://whoa94062.org/art-show-gallery/.

Looking Ahead to 2022

Woodside Day of the Horse, celebrated in the second weekend of October, has become a local institution and Woodside tradition after seventeen years. It has been reinventing itself throughout the pandemic and WHOA! has hopes to further refresh these activities to appeal to an even larger audience in the future.

“We need to remain relevant, and we need to remain focused on our mission to support the equestrian community while preserving and honoring our local equestrian heritage,” remarked Fawni Hill, WHOA! Steering Committee member. “I think our team has been very successful in keeping alive the intention and the spirit of Woodside Day of the Horse through some really tough times, thanks to our sponsors, volunteers, riders, exhibitors, the Town of Woodside and participants from surrounding communities.”

Generous sponsors of Woodside Day of the Horse include a wide variety of individuals and organizations who share a deep interest in preserving the place of horses in our community. They can be found at https://whoa94062.org/sponsors/.

If the past two years have demonstrated anything about our equestrian community, it is its resilience, its commitment to taking care of each other and our horses, and its focus on the future.

As Anne Van Camp,WHOA! Steering Committee member, said with optimism, looking toward that future, “We are looking forward to a fully ‘in person’ experience in 2022 to celebrate the horses in our community. See you there!”

by Nan Meek