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Saddle club: friendly competition and family fun

Nestled in Black Forest off Old Ranch Road is the public arena that the Black Forest Saddle Club and its members call home.Opening in 1959, the nonprofit has provided a safe place for horse aficionados and riders of all ages and skill levels and an opportunity to work with professional trainers, hone their riding skills, engage in friendly competition; and ⎯ most importantly ⎯ have fun.The completely volunteer-run group emphasizes its family friendly atmosphere, which is apparent in its slogan: ìWhere families, friends and horses gather.îìWeíre a whole eclectic group of people,î said the clubís outgoing president, Dayna Scoles. Scoles has been involved with the BFSC for more than five years. When her daughter, Emily, now age 19, joined, Scoles said she started out by driving her daughter to practices and shows, eventually taking on a larger role and assisting with the clubís events.ìWe pride ourselves on being very family friendly,î Scoles said.Membership is open to all, said Melanie Robinson, a BFSC member since 2007, who is also a former board president and a veterinarian specializing in equine care.Itís free to join. The clubís executive board eliminated membership dues four years ago; instead, members are asked to volunteer their time and just pay entry fees when they participate in performance events.ìThat way, you can visit (the club) as much or as little as you want,î Scoles said.Robinson said the Black Forest Saddle Club differs from other like organizations because its focus is on sportsmanship, rather than winning. ìWeíre not like a breed association, or say that if you donít win itís the end of the world,î Robinson said. ìA lot of us want to win, but weíre there to have fun, too.îWith members ranging from age 4 to 70 years old, from beginners to world champions, there is a place for everyone, Scoles said.The BFSC offers members two show arenas on almost 10 acres of property, and hosts a Summer Buckle Series, performance shows, clinics, racing and more.Club members also participate in Monumentís Fourth of July parade and the Black Forest Festival parade each summer.And when they are not giving back to their organization through volunteer work, they are helping their fellow neighbors.When the Black Forest fire broke out in June 2013, it claimed thousands of acres, 489 homes and two lives, causing an estimated $420 million in insurance losses.Seeing the devastation, the BFSC decided to help.ìA bunch of board members went into the forest to evacuate horses,î Scoles said. The effort turned into a partnership with the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, where the BFSC housed hay, feed, saddles and more. The club received donations of feed and equipment by the truckload after the fire, Scoles said.Scoles had tears in her eyes as she recalled one womanís donation.ìA lady in Franktown came to us with a truck full of (riding equipment). She told us her mom had passed away three months (prior); she was an avid horse person and getting rid of her stuff didnít feel right,î Scoles said.But when the woman heard about the clubís efforts to help residents in need, she told Scoles it was as if her mother spoke to her; and she knew it was the right thing to donate her motherís belongings.The club collected goods and monetary donations for three weeks before spending another few weeks distributing the goods.The Black Forest Saddle Club celebrated the end of its 2015 season Jan. 31, with its annual awards ceremony. Each year at this banquet, members are awarded medals for their volunteer work and accomplishments throughout the year. A BFSC queen and her court are also elected, as well as new board members.For more information about the club, membership, and practice and event schedules, call the Black Forest Saddle Club at 719-660-4735 or visit

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