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Sunset Hills Saddle Club


by Pam Gamble
Sunset Hills Saddle Club hosted a club show on July 17. The judge, farrier Gary Stevens was almost unrecognizable, not dressed in his usual farrier attire, but in a crisply starched button-down shirt, polished boots, and a stylish cowboy hat.

Because of the intense recent heat, shows start at 7:30 p.m. with the Halter, Lead In and Buckaroo classes, which take only half the arena. The arena has been strategically placed with a stand of large trees to the West, which gives early shade to the arena, for which the entries were quite thankful!

The class line-up then progressed to other rail classes for Horsemanship, Saddle Horses, and Western Pleasure. It was common to see the same entry in multiple classes, as the classes were short and the show very casual.

The Saddle Horses were all required to go through an inspection to ensure there was no evidence of inhumane training methods or abuse. Generally, a DQP is present to check the horses, but if one is not available, a trained club member does the inspections, in compliance with the rules and regulations of the USDA. This makes the members and spectators confident that all of the horses are being shown compliant with the law and in a humane fashion.

After the rail classes, the speed events took the center stage with the heaviest turnout for the shows. Donna Hopper, current Secretary of Sunset Hills, explained that the largest class is usually the Training Barrel class, which normally has 40-50 riders. “We are very thankful for the barrel riders coming and supporting the shows. Plus, it makes for a fun show!”

Billy Hopper, current President of Sunset Hills stated that they would really like to see more youth and gaited entries. “The youth is us in ten years; we need the children to continue the tradition. My family currently has three generations of participants at Sunset. It would be a shame if local multi-breed shows like ours should disappear. For now and the foreseeable future, Sunset is alive and well in Southaven. All riders are invited. All it takes is a tolerance for outdoors, an interest in horses and a positive attitude.”

Sunset Hills Saddle Club hosts weekly club shows on Tuesday nights. They have been at their current location, 3275 Stanton Rd. near Stateline Rd. in Southaven, Mississippi for four years, and are one of the oldest saddle clubs in the area, founded in 1964. This is the fourth location for Sunset Hills, starting in southeast Memphis. For 29 years, they were on Snowden Lane in Southaven, which is where most people remember the club. During that time, the driving forces behind Sunset Hills were Ted and Joan Isbell, and James and Sharon Stepp.

Since 2005, Sunset Hills has held an annual benefit show for the House of Grace, and this year the benefit show is on Saturday August 18 at 7:00pm. It is open to all riders, and there is 50% payback for all events, except the kid’s Game class. There will be raffles and other fun events during the show to raise additional money, with all proceeds from the event going to House of Grace. This is a fun, family event and spectators are always welcome.

For additional information, please contact Donna Hopper at 901-833-4000.

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