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IMG_8137BY JEFF FALK

QUENTIN – The Quentin Riding Club is older than horse dirt. Perhaps the only thing more ancient is mankind’s relationship with his equine friend.

The Quentin Riding Club has been home to competitive horse showing and riding for more than 80 years. But what makes it even more unique is that it is one of only a handful of complete-service, horse-showing facilities remaining in the United States.

IMG_8079Located at 2500 Quentin Road, Route 72, a few miles south of Lebanon, the 40-acre Quentin Riding Club was formally founded in the early 1930s by a group of local businessmen as a recreation area for their horses. It didn’t take long for competitive horse showing to emerge.

But the origin of the Quentin Riding Club dates back even farther, to the time of the Robert Coleman family, the most influential clan in Lebanon County’s history. The Colemans maintained a farm on the grounds and imported Hackney horses, animals used to draw the carriages of the English aristocracy in the mid 1800s.

IMG_8046“There are two riding clubs in the United States,” said Donali Livinghouse, QRC’s horse show committee chairperson for the past 12 years. “One other than the Quentin Riding Club. There were others in past decades. There are horse show grounds, many of them, but they’re not a club like our’s. We’re the last of one of these. But there are many, many places to show horses. They might not have the barns we do.

“It’s been there a long, long time,” continued Livinghouse. “There’s a whole history there. Originally, it was for carriage horses, Hackney horses, imported from England. Why it became a club? I don’t know.”

The Quentin Riding Club hosts upwards of 35 gaming and fun shows a year. Weather permitting, QRC’s season runs from December to November.

IMG_8099“Horses are loyal, honest and complex,” said Livinghouse, a resident of Berks County. “Some might say they’re kind of crazy. They’re challenging. They smell good. They’re soft and they’re fluffy. They’re intelligent. They’re willing to please. They’re more like cats then they are like dogs. They’re absolutely beautiful. They love to move. They love to play. They like to have a job. They like to work. They don’t like to stand around and do nothing.

“The relationship between man and horses is ancient,” Livinghouse continued. “We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time. It’s the same as with any pet. They’re like your kids. You pay your vet bill before you go to the doctor yourself. People will always tell you that horses have a way of mind reading. If you’re upset, your horse will know you’re upset. If you’re happy, your horse will know you’re happy.”

IMG_8064The people who are drawn to the Quentin Riding Club come from as far away as New Jersey and Virginia and as near as Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg and even Lebanon. They’re mostly affluent. They’re mostly women. And they’re mostly people who have had horsemanship passed down to them.

“Mostly our spectators are relatives of our exhibitors,” said Livinghouse. “If you asked them what brought them here, they would point to someone in the ring. It’s a great family place. The exhibitors are either very, very rich people, or they’re people who are horse poor. People who own horses and show horses don’t fall into a little box. People love horses. Once people get to know about them, they love them. And I’d say the majority are women.

IMG_8117“Shows are very different, they’re very varied,” added Livinghouse. “Our small shows are more of people practicing and getting ready for big shows. Big shows are more prestigious. It really depends on the size of the show. Eighty percent of the people at small shows are from the area. But when shows go into a weekend, or for two days, the competition is a lot heavier and only about 40 percent are local and 60 percent are from out of state.”

So the Quentin Riding Club is a destination. And when people come to Quentin and the surrounding areas, it has a positive effect on the local economy.

“They do go to the restaurants,” said Livinghouse. “They do go shopping. They stay at local hotels when there’s overnight shows. Yes, there is a very positive effect on the local economy. For a two-day horse show, it would cost me $500 per horse to show my horses, and that would include things like transportation and entry fees. There is a lot of money floating around.”

IMG_8113Make no mistake about the fact that horse showing is a sport. A different kind of sport. But a sport, nonetheless.

“A show is a competition,” Livinghouse said. “When you go to horse shows, they’re competing against each other. And there’s many different classes. It’s kind of like dancing. There’s so many types of dance and different types of steps. At ever competition, people are invited to watch, which makes it a show. But there’s also team work involved.

“Many, many, many of the horses enjoy the shows,” added Livinghouse. “Not all of them, but you can tell by their expressions. You can tell because they cooperate. They enjoy doing it. They enjoy having a job. They enjoy showing.”

IMG_8083And just like other sports, the popularity of horse showing is feeling the pinch of the economy, and suffering from a society which is more complex, one in which there are so many other things for its members to do.

“Shows are much smaller than they ever were,” said Livinghouse. “It’s an expensive sport. It’s a very time-consuming sport. An event that had 20 entries in the (19)70s, now sometimes have to be terminated. Our smaller venues have really suffered. I think it’s both things (the economy and the way society has evolved). When horse people get together we say, ‘Do you remember when we were kids?’ That’s all we did, was our horses. Many people are spread out more now.

IMG_8105“I don’t know what the future holds,” Livinghouse continued. “I hope it doesn’t diminish like it has. People I know are going more into trail riding than the serious showing. Yeah, it makes me sad. It makes all horse people sad. When horse people sit around and talk, they talk about the good old days. But I don’t think it will ever disappear completely.”

Perhaps what the sport needs is an infusion of more people like Livinghouse.

“I’m the person who is responsible for contracting the guest horse shows, managing the Quentin Riding Club’s fun show series and managing the Quentin Riding Club’s gaming show series,” said Livinghouse. “The reason I do this is because I have a fond relationship with horse show exhibitors. I throw myself into this position. I took the job because it was important that horse shows continued at Quentin Riding Club.

“The restaurant/clubhouse/bar are kind of a different entity from the grounds,” concluded Livinghouse. “Events outside in the past had as many as 60 weekend events a year. Now we’re down to about 30 weekend events or one-day events, and they’re not just horse related. But there’s a capacity to do other things.”

 

IMG_8125To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-nine/.

Quentin Riding Club’s

 2015 Schedule of Events

QRC Winter Fun Show Series December 7, 2014
QRC Winter Fun Show Series  January 4, 2015
Meet Some Horses January 24, 2015
QRC Winter Fun Show Series  February 1, 2015
Meet Some Horses February 21, 2015
QRC Winter Fun Show Series  March 1, 2015
Meet Some Horses March 14, 2015
International Side Saddle Clinic March  20, 21, 22, 2015
QRC Annual Egg Hunt April 4, 2015
Meet Some Horses April 4, 2015
QRC Winter Fun Show Series Finale  April 12, 2015
Mason Dixon Horse Show  April 24, 25, 26, 2015
Keystone Classic May 2, 3, 2015
Cross Road Tack
Sunday Hunter Series
May 24, 2015
Western Pa. Dressage Show June 6, 7,, 2015
QRC Open Summer Fun Show Series June 10, 2015
QRC Friday Night Gaming ShowClass List          Specs June 12, 2015
QRC Car Show & Breakfast flyer June 14, 2015
Ride For The Roses Show June 20, 2015
Car Show (Rain Date) June 21, 2015
Cross Road Tack
Sunday Hunter Series
June 28, 2015
QRC Open Summer Fun Show Series  July 8, 2015
QRC  Summer All-Breed Show July 11, 12, 2015
Cross Road Tack
All Thoroughbred Show 
July 18, 19, 2015
QRC Friday Night Gaming ShowClass List           Specs July 24, 2015
QRC Open Summer Fun Show Series  July 29, 2015
QRC Open Summer Fun Show Series  August 12, 2015
Western Pa. Dressage Show  August 15, 16,  2015
QRC Friday Night Gaming ShowClass List            Specs August 21, 2015
4- H Horse Show August 22, 2015
Cross Road Tack
Sunday Hunter Series
August 23, 2015
QRC All Breed Horse Show September 11, 12, 13, 2015
Cross Road Tack
Sunday Hunter Series
September 20, 2015
QRC Open Summer Fun Show Series  September 26, 2015
Ride For The Roses Show October 3, 2015
Grey BearNative American Festival October 10, 11, 2015
High Point Awards Banquet November 7, 2015

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