Located on 15 acres in East Petaluma, Sonoma Valley Stables is the North Bay’s top spot for horses and their humans to train for the sport of Hunter/Jumper, also known as show jumping. Owner Ned Glynn and a world-class team of trainers teach a full range of riding and jumping programs that are customized for the horse and its rider.
In addition to training young riders in the North Bay, Sonoma Valley Stables has a history of giving back to the community with its annual Derby Weekend. Despite this year’s Covid-19 pandemic, the Stables was able to host its third annual Derby Weekend last Friday, June 26, to Sunday, June 28.
The event, which safely hosted 60 rider participants and their families over the course of three days, raised over $25,000 to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s “Every Child/Every Day Initiative” to end hunger in the community.
In the past three years, Sonoma Valley Stables has raised over $70,000 for Redwood Empire Food Bank by hosting the Derby Weekend event and receiving donations from sponsors.
“We are at a critical moment in time as we continue to innovate, adapt and expand our services,” Redwood Empire Food Bank CEO David Goodman said in a a statement. “The ongoing and generous support of our partners, like that of Sonoma Valley Stables, is imperative for us to keep up with the food demand this pandemic has brought on.”
Redwood Empire Food Bank’s “Every Child/Every Day Initiative” is currently providing hot and healthy meals through the summer to the nearly 1,000 Sonoma County children who risk experiencing hunger over the summer months. The initiative will serve more than 41,000 hot and healthy meals this summer through August.
While planning for this year’s Derby Weekend, Sonoma Valley Stables was initially concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic would cancel the outdoor event, but Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt informed Glynn and the staff that the county would allow equestrian activities like Derby Weekend to take place.
“After careful consideration, we decided to move forward with hosting Derby Weekend this year,” Glynn said in a statement. “We believed this event would be beneficial for many during this challenging time, especially since our local food bank is working extra hard to meet the needs of our community right now. We took every effort to make sure the riders, attendees, and staff felt safe and comfortable throughout the entire event.”
To follow safety guidelines, Sonoma Valley Stables regularly disinfected the facility, placed hay bales eight-feet apart to ensure physical distancing, used a non-contact thermometer to check temperatures, and cancelled their Saturday evening party. ShadyLady Sun Protection, one of this year’s sponsors, also donated face coverings for participants to wear.
Derby Weekend started a few days early for most of the riders, as the Stables hosted a clinic with equestrian coach and event judge Cynthia Hankins. This clinic was an opportunity for the young participants to learn what judges look for during riding and jumping competitions to gain an edge in the Derby.
The official event kicked off on Friday, June 26, with morning Hunter classes, and the Hunter competitions continued through Saturday. Hunters-over-fences champions were Nico Alario and Chaparral’s Hawkeye for the pony class, Aliana Ashburn and Educated Guess for the 2’0”, Aimee Lafayette and Gucci St. Anne for the 2’3”-2’6”, Amy Brubaker and Frascati for the Jr/Am 2’9”-3’0”, Kylee Arbuckle and Brown Sugar for the professional 2’9”-3’0”, Avery Glynn and Nostalgic for the Jr/Am 3’0”-3’3”, and Arbuckle and Opulence for the professional 3’0”-3’3”. MacLean Sennhenn and Franktown’s Heaven’s Sake took first for the Cross Rail Hunters. Francesca Mortensen and Well Said won the Walk-Trot over Poles competition.
On Sunday, June 28, four different derbies took place. Elsa Warnelius-Miller and Illumination won the 2’0” derby, Nico Alario and Chaparral’s Hawkeye was crowned champion of the pony derby, Lafayette and Gucci St. Anne came in first for the 2’6” derby, and to wrap up the weekend, Margaret Pogue and Edesa’s Iggy Pop took the victory for the 3’0” derby. Finally, Estaban La Paz was crowned this year’s Best Horse.
Sonoma Valley Stables plans to host Derby Weekend again next year. For more information on the facilities’ horses and trainings, visit Sonomavalleystables.com.