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Paso Robles is home to three world class horse show venues 

Horses at the Paso Robles Horse Park

Horses stabled at the Paso Robles Horse Park during a hunter/jumper show.

 Venues bring top level horses and riders

–The Paso Robles Horse Park that opened in May 2015 on Hughes Parkway brings the total of world class horse show facilities located in Paso Robles to three. The horse park, the Paso Robles Event Center and Twin Rivers Ranch bring top level horses and riders from all over the state and Western US into the area several times a year. Twin Rivers Facility Manager and Trainer Andrea Baxter said, “It’s so great for all of the horse sports to have these venues here on the Central Coast. Each facility helps to promote our sports and develop more local people interested in riding or following the sport through volunteering, working or just watching.”

Jumping at horse park

Competitors at a recent hunter/jumper show at the Paso Robles Horse Park.

The 67-acre Paso Robles Horse Park, a premier hunter/jumper show facility, features four jumping arenas, two warm up arenas and a 300’ x 500’ turf fairway known as “Fairway Field.” The fairway can be used open, or sectioned into two more arenas. Fairway Field is showcasing the upcoming Pacific Region Driven Dressage Festival held by the Brass Oak Driving Society. Show organizer Linda Fairbanks said, “The space allows us to present the variety and beauty within carriage driving to spectators for the first time.” The Brass Oak Driving Society has also held shows at Twin Rivers. Fairbanks said that without facilities like the horse park and Twin Rivers, “We would have different kinds of shows, smaller and with no spectators possible.”

Liz Miller and Biscuit

Liz Miller and Biscuit will be competing at the Pacific Region Driven Dressage Festival April 30-May 1. Photo courtesy Linda Fairbanks.

Twin Rivers Ranch in San Miguel, is a 500 acres ranch dedicated to three-day eventing, sometimes called horse trials or combined training. Eventing is an equestrian sport that involves riding a horse over solid and sometimes tricky obstacles across open terrain at top speed, stadium jumping, and dressage. Each event is ridden on one of the three days of competition.

Baxter said, “People come from all over the western USA to compete here and in the California circuit. Twin Rivers hosts the only springtime qualifying event in Area VI, which covers California and Hawaii. This is a huge stepping stone for riders to qualify for USA teams.” Twin Rivers holds at least two qualifying three-day events during the competition year and several smaller one-day schooling shows. Baxter said trainers throughout California often bring their students for training and schooling over the cross-country courses.

Permanent stabling for hundreds of horses, room to add additional temporary stabling, ample and easily accessed truck, trailer, and RV parking and the proximity of hotels and dining are only part of the show circuit attraction to Paso Robles The area is home to a number of trainers and champion riders and their horses, as well as knowledgeable facility managers and course designers who oversee the design and maintenance of the jumping courses. Paso Robles Horse Park Director Amanda Diefenderfer said the park’s jumping courses are designed by a Sarah Dubost, an International Federation for Equine Sports (FEI) Three-Star course designer. Dubost, also a local hunter/jumper trainer and competitor, lives in Templeton. At Twin Rivers, riders have the opportunity to enjoy six levels of cross country courses designed by world renowned course designers Derek di Grazia and James Atkinson. Di Grazia has been named the course designer for both the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Quebec and the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

Twin Rivers Water Obstacle

A water obstacle on the Twin Rivers cross country course.

The Paso Robles Event Center is the only horse show facility in the area that can accommodate western shows that include cattle. Don Crow, President of the San Luis Obispo County Quarter Horse Association (SLOCQHA), said, “If the event center wasn’t here we wouldn’t be able to put on our shows. There are no other local show grounds that has the stabling capabilities, cattle facilities, access to hotels and other amenities necessary for our shows. They give us the opportunity to put on one of the biggest and best Quarter Horse shows in California.” The upcoming Mother’s Day Classic, held May 4-7, is one of the shows put on at the event center by the SLOCQHA. Crow said, “We have entries from all over California, Arizona, Oregon and as far away as Texas for our show.”

Paso Robles Event Center Interim Events coordinator, Tisha Tucker, said the event center hosts 70 days of horse shows a year, plus 12 days of horse shows that are held during the Mid State Fair. Other groups that hold horse shows at the event center include the California Junior Rodeo Association, the Central Coast Cutting Horse Association, and the National Stock Horse Association. Horse shows held during the fair include: 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA ) clubs during the fair, Ranch Horse Class, Cutting Horse Show, Draft Horse Show, Open Horse Show, Country Rodeo, Snaffle Bit Futurity, Stock Horse Show, RSNC Sorting, Team Roping and Wrangler Junior Gymkhana.

Fairbanks said that Diane Kastama, one of the competitors in the upcoming driving show, is a gold medalist in the World Championship for Disabled Drivers. Crow said of the local area, “This is a hot bed for horses in California.” Crow named Cynthia Cantleberry of Paso Robles, a 14 time World Champion and Patty Knudsen and Phillip Ralls among Paso Robles trainers who have won world and national titles. “There are many more,” said Crow. “We have many American Quarter Horse Association judges in our area also.”

Reining Class from 2015 Mothers Day Classic

Demonstrating the slide stop at the 2015 Mother’s Day Classic. Photo courtesy of the San Luis Obispo County Quarter Horse Association.

Upcoming Horse Shows

  • The Pacific Region Driven Dressage Festival, featuring driving teams from all over California and Arizona, is being held at the Paso Robles Horse Park, April 30 – May 1 and is free to the public. The Paso Robles Horse Park is located at 3801 Hughes Parkway, Paso Robles.
  • The SLOCQHA Mother’s Day Classic is May 4-7, with around 300 horses and riders entered, at the Paso Robles Event Center, 2198 Riverside Ave. Paso Robles.
  • The next events at Twin Rivers are a one day school show on May 22 and the Young Rider’s camp at the end of June. Twin Rivers is located at 8715 North River Road, Paso Robles.
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About the author: Reporter Jackie Iddings

Jackie Iddings is a contributing reporter and photographer for the Paso Robles Daily News.