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Annual Ox Ridge show canceled

Updated 1:01 pm, Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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  • The Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, which would have celebrated its 84th year in June, has been canceled this year. Photo by Jeanna Petersen Shepard Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard, Freelance Photo / Darien News freelance
    The Ox Ridge Charity Horse Show, which would have celebrated its 84th year in June, has been canceled this year. Photo by Jeanna Petersen Shepard Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard, Freelance Photo

 

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While the Ox Ridge Hunt Club marks its 100th year, the 84th annual charity horse show was canceled.

"We have a lot of facilities that need to be fixed up," Alan Griffin, the general manager, said.

The extreme winter weather and the heavy rains of the past several weeks have put the club more than five weeks behind schedule, Griffin said.

When work normally would have started, there was a large amount of snow still covering the grounds, Alison Potter, Ox Ridge Hunt Club business manager, said. Following the six-day show, which brings hundreds of horses to the club, the grounds "really just get battered," Potter said.

There also has been a "serious lack of sponsorship this year," Griffin added, noting that several shows across the country have been canceled for similar reasons.

"Corporate sponsorship has fallen off a lot," Potter said. "It's not an easy sale to make. Maybe 10 years ago it was, or even five. Now it's a small group of people who ride that competitively."

The Ox Ridge Hunt Club, 512 Middlesex Road, Darien, was founded in 1914. The first horse show took place in summer 1926.

A U.S. Equestrian Federation Hunter A-rated major riding competition, the show draws competitors from all across the country and the world. The decision was made two years ago to put a cap on the number of riders at 600. There were roughly 550 riders in the 2013 event.

The club has skipped the show once or twice in its 100 years, Potter said, and it has done so "with a plan."

"We wanted to do some renovations but because we're always consumed with the show, we didn't have the time," Potter said.

The decision to cancel the show was done quietly, with a simple one-line announcement on the club's website. Riders were notified, though, that the show would not take place this year. The club has received numerous calls from people asking why it isn't taking place, Potter said.

However, the club will host a one-day jump show June 15 "that will be really fun," Potter said. What's more, the club will not have to board all the horses that the annual charity show draws.

"The club is trashed when everyone leaves," Potter said. "And that's OK when you're ready for it and everything mends itself."

In its 100-year history, the club, one of the last of its kind, has been on the brink of nonexistence multiple times, Flavia Callari one of the two business managers of the club, said in 2013. The reasons included lack of funds during the wars, recession, low membership and bad management.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews