The Menlo Charity Horse Show kicked of its 41st annual event yesterday at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton.
Fans of the elegant galloping giants can hoof it over to the show at 190 Park Lane to watch a variety of competitions and shows, as well as browse the booths of local vendors and shops, while supporting a good cause.
The landscaping is striking under the beautiful weather the Peninsula is experiencing this week. The grass shines emerald, and pleasantly contrasts with the rich brown hue of the horses, as well as with the manicured, dark colored uniforms of riders.
"It's just a great opportunity to get outside and appreciate natural beauty," said Lela Gordon, an Atherton resident and longtime patron of the Menlo Charity Horse Show.
She also said that knowing the money spent at the event will benefit a charity is a bonus.
Proceeds from the purchase of a $10 day ticket or $35 week pass will go to benefit the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The show will carry on through Saturday. Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
Children under 12 and seniors over 65 are admitted free.
Last year, the show raised more than $450,000 for the Vista Center. It has raised millions of dollars for the charity in the more than four decades the show has been in existence. An array of activities and competitions will be jumping off each day of the event. Tuesday evening, riders exhibited their horse's performance and soundness in their ability to trot, as judges watched intently.
Other horses galloped and leaped over hurdles, as the riders stylishly posed and preened in hopes they would win one of the much desired gift bags offered by sponsors such as Nordstrom, and other high-end merchants.
Rider Marla Amormino said the difference between this show and others is primarily its philanthropic nature.
"It's awesome. It is just a blast," said Amormino, who has been riding horses for over two decades.
Amormino, who won first and second place in a jumping competition yesterday, said the prizes offered are not anything to shake a tail at either.
"They are to die for," she said, laughing.
Those wishing to wrap up some prizes of their own have an opportunity to ride off into the sunset with extravagant goodies such as a new watch worth nearly $20,000 or an impressionist painting valued at about $7,000 by placing bids in the show's silent auction.
Show attendees also have a chance to dine at the "Celebrating the Horse" dinner that will take place Friday. By ponying up $225 for a ticket, people may graze on fine food and practice their horse trot afterwards at the dance that will be hosted. For those who favor cheaper food options, there will a bar-be-cue dinner Saturday night after the grand prix show. Tickets for adults are $40, children under 12 are $19.
Throughout the course of the week, there will be assorted luncheons, wine tastings and social hours offered.
"This is one of the top horse shows in California, if not the United States," said Walter Haub, the show's manager.
He said the variety exhibited in the show appeals to kids and adults. And the location of the show adds to its attractiveness.
"We take a club and turn it into a three-ring horse show," said Haub.