JUNE 2, 1997
Mikel Luster enjoys the costume event.
Photo courtesy of Little Bit.
by Mina Hochberg
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville will hold the 10th Annual Pat Flynn Memorial Horse Show this Saturday and Sunday. Every year, riders with disabilities from around the Northwest and British Columbia come to this Woodinville event to compete in a number of riding competitions. This year, approximately 80 riders, ages six and older, will demonstrate their riding skills and creativity to their peers, family, trainers, and public.
The show was founded a decade ago in honor of Pat Flynn, a former student who began riding at Little Bit when she developed multiple sclerosis. As a former rodeo rider, she was able to continue developing riding skills with the instruction of Little Bit trainers. It was Flynn's endowment that enabled the center to remodel its facilities approximately five years ago.
The different events, or "classes," of the show are jumping, dressage (an event in which the rider and horse must follow a given riding pattern), equitation, costume, and obstacle course. In the dressage class, competitors sometimes ride to music. In the obstacle course class, the horse and rider encounter obstacles such as bridges, opening mailboxes, and opening and closing gates. According to Mary Pardee, Little Bit development and public relations representative, this class is a demonstration of good teamwork between the rider and horse.
Pardee said the costume class is a favorite with spectators as well as competitors. "Some wear the most outrageous costumes," she said. In past years, horses and their riders have appeared dressed as cows, frogs, and tourists.
"The show is particularly gratifying when you see how much the riders accomplish on horseback," Pardee said. "It is an amazing experience to see someone in a wheelchair get on a horse and go out with fellow riders," she explained, adding that on a horse, the rider can go anywhere.
Pardee pointed out that horses at Little Bit are well-mannered and trained to remain calm around people, including strangers. They remain calm even when wheelchairs are brought right up alongside them. She said anyone who knows horses will realize that for a horse to remain this calm is an amazing thing to see.
The show will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The public is invited to attend.