In The Press

Organizers expand events for 2017 St. Johns County Horse Council’s Drum Runners series

Posted January 7, 2017 11:02 pm – Updated January 9, 2017 09:55 am

Riders of all ages walked, trotted and galloped their horses full speed around barrels and poles at the Drum Runners’ first horse show of the year Saturday.

The St. Johns County Horse Council, headed by President Ali Smith, runs the Drum Runners, a 10-month series of horse racing events. The event Saturday kicked off the Drum Runners’ second year, and this show in Elkton featured some new events. There originally was a barrel race and a pole bending race followed by two “fun games,” Smith said, but this year, shows will also feature a jackpot barrel race, where riders with the fastest times can win money, and two fun games were added.

“We’re trying to reach all riders,” Smith said. “We thought we’d try something different with the jackpot and see how everybody likes it.”

The barrel and pole races are divided by age groups. Riders earn points each show, depending on how they placed in their event and age group, and those with the most points by the end of the year receive awards and prizes.

Lance Baker, 58, and his family often participate in the shows. Baker was part of the group that began the Drum Runners two years ago.

“We wanted to start our own thing for the kids,” he said. “We wanted to make it fun for them.”

Baker barrel raced his 19-year-old horse, Cowboy, on Saturday. When he wasn’t with his horse, he worked by the gate where horses enter and leave the arena, making sure each horse and rider enters and leaves safely.

Smith said there were around 45 riders in attendance, less than the 85 present at last year’s first show. Smith attributed the smaller crowd to the chilly, gloomy weather and riders going to another nearby barrel race that day, but she said she expects attendance to pick back up in the next couple of months.

“As that jackpot grows, they’ll get more people,” predicted Kristi Boothe, a rider from Flagler County who also makes and sells her own horse tack. “Local riders are always looking for jackpots.”

Smith, Baker and Boothe agreed the purpose of participating in shows is to have fun riding horses and spending time with others in the horse community. While many adults participate and events are open to everyone, Smith said the shows are especially great for children.

“It builds their morale, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s very important for them to help and support each other.”

When one rider’s horse balked at the end of a line of poles during the pole bending event, the announcer encouraged her over the loudspeaker to give it another try. Slowing down to a trot, the pair headed back down the line as Smith called out, “There you go!” in encouragement from the edge of the arena. When the rider finished the pattern successfully, the crowd applauded.

“Everybody’s very supportive of each other,” Boothe said after the rider exited the arena.

Boothe said she grew up riding horses and is getting back into the sport after spending some time away.

“I think it’s in your blood,” she said of riding horses. “You either have it or you don’t, and if you start doing it, you’re always going to do it.”

Shows are scheduled the first Saturday of the month at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds. The event is free and open to the public.

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4-H Riding Round Up, Judging Clinic




St. Johns County 4-H Program Assistant

 Horses are one of many exciting projects offered to youth in the St. Johns County 4-H Program.  The St. Johns County 4-H Horse Program is excited to have a local place to practice their horsemanship and riding skills.

The St. Johns County Equestrian Center, located in Hastings, is a beautiful facility with two large riding arenas, 24-stall barn, round pen and a community center. The St. Johns County Horse Council has done a wonderful job improving and managing this facility so that horse enthusiasts can have a place to ride and enjoy their horses on county-owned property. The St. Johns County 4-H Horse Program recently used the facility for a weekend Fall Riding 4-H Round-up Clinic. In November, the 4-H Program Assistant, Kellie Anderson, was able to partner with Allie Anderson who is a member of the University of Florida Horse Judging Team and St. Johns County 4-H Volunteers/Horse Council Members Donna and Ashley Colee to teach the riding clinic. The St. Johns County Equestrian Center enabled the 4-Hers to practice both English and Western showmanship and riding disciplines in a safe environment. Youth were also able to learn about Horse Judging and Hippology by participating in educational activities that enhanced and challenged their horse knowledge. The St. Johns County 4-H Horse Program sincerely appreciates the support from the SJC Horse Council, 4-H Volunteers and the University of Florida Horse Judging Team has provided to our local 4-H youth. It is great to see our St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Facilities put to such good use!


Dec. 10, six St. Johns County 4-H youth who attended the Fall Riding Round-Up expanded their horse knowledge by attending the UF 4-H/FFA Horse Judging Clinic that was held at the UF Horse Teaching Unit.  Several members of the UF Horse Judging Team members taught youth how to judge horses in halter, pleasure, equitation and ranch riding classes. This event was an educational clinic for youth wanting to participate in the Florida State Fair Horse Judging Contest in February.

If you are interested in learning more about the 4-H Program or 4-H volunteering opportunities, please contact the 4-H Office at the St. Johns County Agricultural Center (3125 Agricultural Center Drive, St. Augustine, 32092) at 904 209-0430. To find out more about the St. Johns County 4-H Program or to enroll, go to:  .


4-H Riding Round Up, Judging Clinic