Steps to HOPE Benefit Hunter Pace and Trail Ride held May 16

Published 3:40 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

The rain held off again for the Western Carolina Hunter Pace Series as 150 riders came out to enjoy the Steps to Hope Benefit Hunter Pace and Trail Ride on the Greenspace of Fairview Farms. It is getting to be a normal occurrence that the inclement weather, no matter how severe it is supposed to be, seems to wait until the last rider is in before loosing its fury.

The rolling hills and forests of this property are always a delight to ride as much of it is included in a land trust and is not open to the public. The trails were well maintained and went through natural as well as some artistically planted stands of trees. There was also a section along the river with a stand of laurel and the aroma of honeysuckle in the wind. The water crossings and low areas were terraced and filled to keep them safe and easily passable and any natural obstacles along the way were carefully marked.

The course, which began at the staging area on Born Free Farm, went past many more of the farms in the area and also included the galloping track. The designers took care of the problem of less experienced riders being overtaken by Derby wannabees in a unique way this year by having the course enter into the middle of the track. The slower equestrians were instructed to go to the right for a shorter stint on the turf and the racers were told to head left and go for it without the fear of upsetting a green mount or rider. The trail ended across a small wooden bridge and along a fence to finish where it began with Joey Cabaniss and his crew at the Start/Finish tent.

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There is something to be said for the smell of grilling hamburgers and hotdogs at the end of a pleasant hack. Quite a few of the ponies got a rather speedy untacking as their owners answered the call from their stomachs and hurried to the food tent. Fortunately, the far-sighted Steps to HOPE crew had anticipated the need for a little equine pampering and handed out a carrot for each horse. The desserts were easy to eat finger foods such as brownies and cookies with plenty to go around for the sugar lovers. Grassy areas under the large trees made an inviting picnic spot.

Steps to HOPE is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and had many volunteers show up for this yearly fund-raiser. Board member Patty Otto donated the food as a memorial to her late husband who was also on the Steps to HOPE board. Many other board members brought the desserts and the cookies were donated by Jana Hinely of the Hungry Fox.

The rest of the volunteers included Elaine Belk, Dr. Tom Dashiell, Pat and Andy Foster, Helen Gilbert, Bill Jones, Dianne Joyce, Kate & Joe Manno, Lucy Miller, Nelson Minnick, Jan Smith, Paula Stathakis, Trudy VanVoorhis, Larry Wassong, Sylvia and Hugh Youngers. The landowners who lent their farms to the cause were Shirley and Steve Greene, Robbie and Micky Hambright, Kitty and Bob Kestler, Jim King, Kristen King, Art Lazarus, Walt Meyers, Patty Otto and Madelon Wallace. Many of the owners also put in many hours helping.

The Field Hunter Division was over an 8.4 mile course which had an optimum time of one hour and 28 minutes. There were a total of 58 riders and the winner in the Field Hunter division was Sharon Carden of Elizabethton, Tenn., with a time of one hour, 28 minutes and 12 seconds. She was only 12 seconds off the optimum. In second place were the team of Laura May of Columbus, Dean McKinney from Campobello, Fern Powell from Spartanburg and Else Voorhees who came in at one hour, 27 minutes and 44 seconds. The team of Kathy and Ric Rondell of Tryon and Roberta Axelrod from Columbus came in third with a time of one hour, 28 minutes and 35 seconds. The fourth place team of Liz Crawley from Inman and Sue Smolka of Hickory came in at one hour, 29 minutes and two seconds. Betty Hill from Columbus was fifth in one hour, 29 minutes and 36 seconds. In sixth were Darbie Barr of Salem and Anne and Kelsey Spicer from Campobello who came in at one hour, 25 minutes and 44 seconds.

The Trail Rider Division of 92 riders also ran over the 8.4 mile course and had a calculated optimum time of two hours, 18 minutes and ten seconds. The first place winners were Linda Pugh Petz and Stacie Ray who rode the course in a time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 47 seconds, which was only 37 seconds off the optimum. In second place was Andrew Clarke from Tigerville in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 32 seconds. The team of Ruth Ann DeHollander from Ware Shoals and Holly Lewis of Honea Path was third and in fourth place were Amy Farrell from Simpsonville and Jennifer Israel of Campobello. Fifth place was won by Jan Mize from Simpsonville and Sarah Silver of Landrum. The team of Victoria Bailey of Spartanburg, Chris and Kelly Cannon from Moore, and Amanda Stickley from Spartanburg, came in sixth.

Lou Smith was on hand at the Steps to HOPE Hunter Pace and Trail Ride, as usual, to take pictures of the riders. Click on the photo section of for a view of the horses and riders enjoying the track.

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming events so mark your calendars and plan to join us. Coming up next is the last event of the season, the River Valley Pony Club ride, so come out on May 30 and support the kids and their ponies. Dont forget the end of the season ride on the West Range of Biltmore on June 20. The Year End Awards Gathering, scheduled for June 20, to benefit HALTER is set as one last event before we take our summer break.

Remember to check the website at for all upcoming events, news, articles, photos, placements and contact information.

For information on the Western Carolina Hunter Pace & Trail Ride Series e-mail Series Coordinator Jan Smith at or call her at 828-894-8760.