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Buffalo International Horse Show Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

Buffalo, NY – August 26, 2006 – The 60th Annual Buffalo International Horse Show (BIHS) will host yet another year of top hunter and jumper competition in the Northwest in 2006. Held at the Buffalo Equestrian Center (BEC), formerly known as the Buffalo Saddle and Bridle Club, the horse show has a long tradition of excellence and has seen some of the nation’s best equestrians compete in its hallowed indoor arena. The show will be held this year on September 13-17 and will benefit the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center (BTRC).

Located at 950 Amherst Street in the heart of downtown Buffalo, the Buffalo Saddle and Bridle Club was originally built in 1921 for equestrians to use as an indoor polo facility. The Buffalo Saddle and Bridle Club was built by a group of investors and was originally a private club with such well known equestrians as founding member Harry H. Hall. It enjoyed years of growth and success, as well as acknowledgment from top riders that attended BIHS.

In 1980, Susie Schoellkopf, president of SBS Farms Inc., returned to her hometown and leased part of the property of the old Buffalo Saddle and Bridle Club. Her father, Paul, had headed the Board of Directors at the facility for 20 years. “I grew up here in Buffalo, and I love living here,” Schoellkopf related.

In 1989, the facility was donated to the BTRC, and Schoellkopf was asked by the Board of Directors to become the executive director of the facility. Today, the land is owned by the not-for-profit BTRC, and the Buffalo Equestrian Center and SBS Farms lease part of the property.

The horse show was a large part of the success of the facility in its early years. It saw many great riders and horses compete for prizes and recognition. With an indoor arena that is 250 by 190 feet long, it helped many trainers from America and Canada alike prepare horses and students for the fall indoor finals. To this day, many trainers still use BIHS as the perfect warm-up competition for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the Washington International Horse Show, or the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, which follow only weeks later.

The show began in 1946 with the help of Mervyn Alexander and Mrs. Charles Stevenson. For anyone who knows the hunter and jumper industry, they will recognize the list of names that have won prizes at BIHS. They include American Olympic Silver medalist Michael Matz and legend Rodney Jenkins, as well as eight-time Canadian Olympic Show Jumper Ian Millar and Canada’s current Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe and Olympian Torchy Miller.

In recent years, BIHS has hosted riders such as Joey Darby, Jenny Fisher, Brian Flynn, Wayne McClelland, top hunter rider Rob Bielefeld, and Canadian Show Jumper Erynn Ballard. This year, the show will offer classes for top hunter riders like Bielefeld and many others. The judges are Jim Clapperton and Brian Lenehan, who showed at BIHS as a junior rider.

BIHS has been a large profit-raising entity for the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center for years. The BTRC currently offers programs for mentally and emotionally impaired, learning disabled and developmentally challenged children from ages 6 to 16. Programs are designed and taught by Libby McNabb, an instructor registered with the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, Inc. (NARHA) and with Special Olympics. The program uses ex-show horses that are donated to help teach children how to ride. “It’s amazing to see the horses step into another role and be happy,” Schoellkopf revealed.

The Buffalo Equestrian Center currently offers public riding lessons and summer camps. With all three programs- BTRC, BEC, and SBS Farms- the facility is quite unique. “It is one of the top show barns, offers riding lessons to children who don’t own their own horse, and has a wonderful therapeutic riding program. You don’t find that at most facilities, and I think it’s great for all of the children who participate in these programs to see a different perspective,” Schoellkopf conveyed.

Photo Credit: The Roses Are Red Grand Hunter Champion Challenge Trophy, awarded at the Buffalo International Horse Show. Photo © 2005 Randi Muster.


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