Flintridge Raises the Bar

By February 1, 2012


Dale Harvey exits the Del Mar Arena flanked by sponsors.

Dale Harvey, center, in Del Mar with Doug Carlson of Rancho Valencia and hunter rider Annie Finch. (Photo by Paula Parisi)

The Flintridge Riding Club is undergoing a reinvention for its 90th anniversary, with Dale Harvey coming in to manage the big spring hunter jumper show.  Rechristened the Flintridge Horse Show, the April 26-29 event has been expanded to four days and will now include adult classes.

The annual competition ― a fundraiser for the Huntington Memorial Hospital ― has unspooled for nine decades as the Flintridge Children’s Show for junior and pony riders.  In its 91st iteration, the Flintridge Horse Show will now encompass the $25,000 Pasadena Land Rover Grand Prix on Saturday night under the lights in the Jimmy Williams Oval, spiffed-up with new footing for the occasion.

Changes also include a $2,500 Sunnybrook Ranch Hunter Derby on Friday. “We’ve changed the name to emphasize ‘something for everyone,’ with classes from short-stirrup to grand prix,” Harvey said, noting that the footing will be “that standard that the trainers expect of A-quality horse shows in California.”

Harvey should know. He has for years produced the Del Mar National Horse Show (May 1-6), the Del Mar International (Sept. 26-30) and the Sacramento International (Oct. 2-7), among others.  “It’s exciting to us, because Dale brings a lot of professionalism and a really elite group of riders. We’re delighted at the opportunity to work with him,” Flintridge board member Chris Warner said.

Harvey was similarly enthusiastic. “The footing is great ― a mix of felt, fiber and sand ― and they’re getting new jumps, which will be really great.”  The grand prix, to be presented by the Allen Lund Company transport firm, will be 1.40 m (4’6”).

While definitely challenging, that is at the lower end of the high-performance spectrum. At the upper levels the jumps are 1.50 m-1.60 m ( 5’ – 5’3”). “This will be a class you can do as somebody who’s moving up to that level. The idea for this show is to make it a place you can bring a young horse. With the Del Mar National a week after it will be a good place to get practice under the lights.” The show will be a mix of A- and B- rated classes.

Rider on a white horse under the oaks at the Flintridge Riding Club.

Rider under the oaks at the Flintridge Riding Club.

The reinvention of the flagship show is only one of the changes at Flintridge, where Lydia Doherty came aboard as facility manager in October. Doherty joined from the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, which she ran starting in December 2008, drawing on her long and storied history on the Los Angeles Equestrian scene.

Doherty was an instructor at LAEC’s Traditional School of Equitation, and owned Griffith Park Horse Rentals from 1988-2004. From 2005-2008 she worked Castle Leslie Equestrian Center, in County Monaghan, Ireland, managing the facility, which specializes offering tourists on holiday the experience of cross country, stadium jumping and dressage riding.

“I trained with her about 20 years ago at TES, so I can absolutely attest to her riding skills,” Warner said. “The fact that she’s a rider is very nice for us. Our previous managers have been more financially and administratively oriented, so this brings an important component. Everything’s coming together.”

For her part, Doherty said Flintridge is “a beautiful place to ride and a great place to work,” adding that she’s frequented the facility since she was a kid. She is excited to join at a time when the venue’s history is being celebrated even as it is maneuvering for growth.

A principal order of business is reigniting the Flintridge Riding Academy Program, which enables non-members to enjoy the club for a relatively low cost. There will also be anniversary festivities ― a fall gala and, more informally, a barbecue and movie on the grass for the kids.

On Feb. 16, the FRC teams with the Flintridge La Canada Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the community’s centennial year. “The kickoff mixer is going to be at our clubhouse, and they’re following with events throughout the year,” Warner explained.

FRC for the first time teams with the San Fernando Hunter Jumper Association for a one-day schooling show on Feb. 11 that will be open to all ages and levels and include a hunter derby.

For Flintridge Horse Show details, including a prize list and entry forms, visit jumpflintridge.com; for more information about the FRC, visit flintridgeridingclub.org.

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