Women’s Surface Creek Saddle Club in Colorado remains strong after five decades
August 29, 2016
Founded in 1959, the Women's Surface Creek Saddle Club continues to attract members from across Colorado.
The current group, which ranges in age from 16 to 86, owns and rides a range of animals including mules, Arabians, Fjords, Paso Finos, Missouri Foxtrotters and Quarter horses. Throughout the year they practice for and participate in competitive trail riding, cow penning, driving, Western dressage events and parades.
The mission statement of the club is "to foster members who share equine-related interests. Members will enjoy camaraderie with each other in a fun and social atmosphere. Members are encouraged to share knowledge about equine activities, welfare and equine care topics with the club. We emphasize safety in trail rides and in everyday handling of equines."
The idea for the Women's Surface Creek Saddle Club originated in the 1950s during Cowboy Polo gatherings.
The Western version of the sport consisted of a mallet or broom, a very large ball, and "whatever they had to ride," recalled Carolynn Andersen of Cedaredge. She joined the WSCSC in 1961 and remains a member today.
"My dad and my brother both played," she said. "I don't remember the breed of horse Dad rode but he was a big, tall guy, part Thoroughbred. They called him Shorty."
At that time, the men and horses competed on the local high school football field. It was large enough to accommodate a halftime show, and "since the women needed something to do on horseback, too, they decided to learn drill formations."
Organizing a club of their own and meeting often to practice, "We did something different each time from crossovers to weaving to figure-eight formations. It was really fun."
Bystanders enjoyed the show as well. Additional activities quickly began appearing on the new Women's Surface Creek Saddle Club's calendar. In 2016, events began with a traditional New Year's Day ride. They do this every Jan. 1, weather permitting, since, as they say, "what you do on that day, you will do all year."
Other scheduled events include the July 2 Independence Day Parade in Cedaredge; the July 4 Cherry Days Parade in Paonia; the August 13 Delta County Fair Parade in Hotchkiss; and the Parade of Lights on December 3.
The women have already attended the Colorado Horse Expo in Denver and Pioneer Days in Cedaredge this year. Sponsored events to come include a Wellness clinic, a Trail Clinic, and a NATRC (North American Trail Horse Conference, Region 3) ride on the Grand Mesa.
For Lorie Molitor, who is on the Executive Committee, the annual Fun Night is a special favorite.
"Families come to watch members ride in goofy contestant events," she said.
One of them involves fishing rubber duckies out of a swimming pool on horseback with a net. There's also the hula hoop event, where pass a hoop all over and under the horse.
Safety is key for the group, too."People have fallen off on occasion, but no one has ever gotten seriously hurt," Molitor said.
As a rule, the horses are well-conditioned enought to sudden noises, crowds, firecrackers and other scary things so there's rarely a problem. Thanks to members Vicki Mangano, who has an outdoor arena, and Estella Holmes, who has a trail course on her property, the horses get plenty of practice.
Additionally, they get a lot of trail conditioning on the Grand Mesa, just north of Cedaredge.
"We used to host a trail trials event every other year in Escalante Canyon," Molitor said. "Due to the difficulty in getting permits from the BLM National Conservation Area, however, we've now moved it to the Grand Mesa."
Andersen, now 83, continued to compete in the NATRC, as well as in local gymkhanas, up until five years ago. She still enjoys going out on her 20-year-old Arabian gelding, though.
"He is a bit stiff these days," she admitted, "but he still likes to go."
Clearly, she does too. Just this past June 12, she went trail riding on the Grand Mesa with her granddaughter, Pepper Foley. And she's glad she made the trip.
"I saw my first cow moose, ever, in a pond up there. She was raising and lowering her head into the water and just eating away."
She and Pepper sat for quite a while, watching and taking pictures.
Carolynn might not compete anymore at 83, but like the rest of the women in this long-lasting club she continues to enjoy sharing life from the saddle with a friend. ❖