By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Promoting good horsemanship and ensuring that riding can by enjoyed by every member of the family in a safe and fun atmosphere are the two goals of the Rambling Riders Saddle Club.
Forty horse enthusiasts gathered in September 1969 to begin a club whereby people of all ages could enjoy their horses and participate in a little fun competition.
Monthly funshows are held from May through September at the outdoor Stearns County Fairgrounds arena in Sauk Centre. Events include both pleasure and Western Saddle Clubs Association (WSCA) gaming events.
Participants both old and young enjoy the games such as egg and spoon, key race, ring and spear and events that include barrel racing, pole weaving and the speed dash.
Members keep track of the points earned at each show and at the end of the year the first two finishers get to choose which prize they would like — a trophy, a cash prize or a gift certificate.
Kristin Woida of Villard is in her second year as queen of the saddle club, a representative at parades and shows. The year prior to that she was a princess, and last year she was voted vice president.
“I joined the club about eight years ago after I got a horse,” Woida said. “I always have tons of fun at the shows and have met some amazing people through the club. Everyone is so supportive and helpful.”
There are currently about 30 members in the saddle club ranging in age from 5 to the mid 60s. “It’s a good place to learn from each other,” said Woida. “The most valuable thing I’ve learned is just to not worry about winning and to have fun.”
Club members are divided into different age groups for the games: PeeWees through age 10; Juniors aged 11 – 13; Intermediates aged 14 – 17; Women aged 18 and over and Men aged 18 and over.
Funshow events are free. There is an annual open show at the end of the season, which is a WSCA-sanctioned event. This year’s show had 57 events. Riders there can qualify for the state champ show that is held at the state fairgrounds coliseum.
Woida had wanted a horse for as long as she could remember. “I used to look at ads in the Peach and point out every horse I saw to my dad,” she said. “I finally got my first horse, a Welsh pony named Windy, when I was 11.”
She has been involved financially from the beginning, helping pay for hay, tack and vet bills as she was able with money earned doing chores around the farm and babysitting.
Two of Woida’s horses have been rescue animals. “We rescued them from starvation and were able to give them a second chance,” she said. “That was a very touching and memorable experience.”
Woida, a 2012 graduate of Sauk Centre High School, is a student at Ridgewater College in the veterinary technician program. After graduating, she is hoping to live in either northern Minnesota or North Dakota, where there is a high demand for vet techs with large animals like horses and cattle.
“I hope to someday have a small horse facility where I can train, board and give lessons,” said Woida.
The Rambling Riders club relies mostly on word-of-mouth for new members. They have a brand new Web site and a Facebook page.
A single membership is $5 per year and a family (no matter what size) is $15 per year.
“It’s so easy to get involved and have fun,” Woida said. “You just have to bring your horse.”