Horses were saddled up and kicking up dust Friday evening, as the grandstand at Bolado Park opened its gates for the San Benito County Fair Horse Show.
An intimate crowd of spectators watched while close to forty entrants showed off their horse skills and competed in the stock horse and cutting show.
“They are skills that were once needed and now people use them for fun,” said Dara Tobias, county fair manager. “They’re kind of old fashioned, horse riding skills.”
Once used in the foothills of Hollister by ranchers to herd cattle, the skills were showcased with great finesse by the competitors.
The stock horse division is separated into two classes—junior and 18 and over. The riders put their horses through different patterns and skills—turning in one direction and then the other and performing clean, smooth stops. The horses performed these different skills first without a cow, and then with cow.
In the cutting competition riders demonstrate how to “cut” a calf off from its herd.
“It’s a skill you would use if you needed to doctor a cow. If a calf got sick, you would need to cut it out of the herd and you would be able to rope it to be able to doctor it,” Tobias explained.
While riders waited for their time to compete, the center of the grandstand was set aside for horses to rest and exercise between events.
“They’re like athletes,” Tobias said. “You don’t want them to go out and do anything cold.”
Up in the stands, Debbie Kline was there watching her granddaughter, Chloe Diaz, compete for the first time in the Stock Horse Show. Kline was noticeably worried.
But, the look of concern had nothing to do with the young rider’s skills
“She’s a good rider,” said great-aunt Linda Kline. “All this waiting makes grandma very nervous.”
Hollister resident, Monty Bryan, was there preparing for next year’s show with his ten-year-old granddaughter.
“She plans to complete next year in this event,” he said. “We go to the horse show every year.”
San Benito County Fair, Bolado Park, 9000 Airline Highway, Tres Pinos. September 28–October 1.