This month I am pleased to highlight the Laurel Saddle Club of Billings, Montana. They have two major Working Equitation events planned for 2021, including a Cattle Trial at one event (see their events in the calendar listings above). The Laurel Saddle Club is a USAWE Affiliate Organization with a great back-story which is why I selected them as the Region 1 Member Spotlight feature for January 2021.
The story is really one of two pathways crossing. USAWE member Jody Anderson first learned about Working Equitation about 10 years ago from her Dressage instructor who was dabbling in Working Equitation and introduced it to her students. That instructor didn’t continue on with Working Equitation as a discipline, but Jody had caught the WE bug and pursued it on her own.
Jody and some friends traveled to Platteville, Colorado to the Circle Star Arena for some intensive 3-day WE clinics and trainings since there were no local options at that time that they were aware of. Chris Stanko, Kitty McLaughlin and Lauren Gueswel were a great help in laying the foundation that Jody and her friends needed to get Working Equitation started locally. Trisha Reed was also a helpful asset locally as time went on.
Although there was a small group of people forming a love for Working Equitation in Billings they were finding it challenging to get more of the Eastern Montana Appaloosa Horse Club interested because of the lack of area WE events.
In another part of town, the Laurel Saddle Club, a Cowboy Polo club, was finding itself in the end-stages of existence, with a board who was looking for some way to hand off the facilities and organization to new leadership. One of the Laurel Saddle Club board members happened to also be on the Eastern Montana Appaloosa Horse Club board, and so the conversation began…
These two organizations currently exist as two separate entities, but the members of both Boards work very closely with each other. They are in the process of reimagining what was formerly a Cowboy Polo club into something new and different, with Working Equitation as a key component of what they are all about. They are currently rehabilitating and upgrading the Laurel Saddle Club facilities for Working Equitation events in addition to other events.
What a great story! It really shows how just one person can make a difference and what can happen when people work together. Billings, Montana has historically been primarily rodeo-centered. Breed shows in the area have been dwindling, and there is not much else available for riders who are not involved in rodeo. Billings is a town of about 100,000 people and has the potential to support any size equine event.
The Laurel Saddle Club has the goal to be one of the biggest Working Equitation clubs in Region 1. They would like to host a USAWE Regional Show at their facility when those get underway. 2021 will be an inaugural year for the Laurel Saddle Club in many ways. Let’s help them get off to a great start. See if you can make it to their show on June 5-6, 2021.
Be a part of something great happening in the Big Sky area of Region 1.