gamblers_choice_imageSaturday night at the SAFE Show we held the first ever Gambler’s Choice Trails Challenge, an event we dreamed up with the help and guidance of Mr Dan McCallister, who not only designed the course, but acted as judge and Master of Ceremonies for the evening. As a recap, the Gambler’s Choice Trails Challenge —sponsored by Mt Rainier Equine Veterinary Clinic — featured 8 local trainers and riders competing for points on an advanced Trails course. Different obstacles on the course were worth different point values, and each rider had 2 minutes to gather the highest point total for the win. Riders were required to attempt at least 4 different obstacles, and no obstacle could be attempted twice in a row. We saw a variety of strategies, with some riders going right for the high point obstacles, while others made multiple runs on the lower valued obstacles which were faster to complete. Everyone added their own flair to the course, and it was very exciting for the spectators!

But before the event began, each rider was auctioned off to members of the audience in order to create a “win pool” which would be divided 50% to SAFE, 25% to the winning rider, and 25% to the “owner” of the winning rider. The auction was conducted by Dan, who kept everyone in stitches as he worked the crowd and kept the bids rising! In the end, the “win pool” reached an incredible $1,785…which meant that the riders were each competing to win $446.25 for themselves and $446.25 for their winning bidder. SAFE would be walking away with $892.50 as its share of the “win pool.” The generosity of our audience members exceeded our wildest dreams!

Our winners, Rachel Koehler and Bacardi!

Our winners, Rachel Koehler and Bacardi!

In the end, the winner of the inaugural Gambler’s Choice Trails Challenge was Rachel Koehler, who rode Bacardi to victory with 85 points earned. During her run, Rachel made two successful attempts at the “Ring of Death,” an obstacle worth 20 points, as well as the 20 point gate and the 15 point lope poles. The bidder who “won” Rachel in the auction, Cathi Champion, surprised us all by donating her winnings back to SAFE —making everyone cry in the process —and bringing the total earned for the horses to an amazing $1,339. We are so grateful for Cathi’s incredible support and generosity, and for making this first time event such an incredible success!

Here are the results for all our competitors, every one of whom did great! We can’t wait until next year!

1st — Rachel Koehler — 85 points

2nd — Adina Roberts — 80 points

3rd — Spencer St James — 75 points

tied for 4th — Juliane Hanley — 65 points

tied for 4th — Erin Richardson — 65 points

tied for 4th — Lauren Wiefer — 65 points

tied for 4th — Sara M — 65 points

5th — Andy Johnson — 30 points

Thank you again to our amazing sponsor, Mt Rainier Equine Vet Services and Dr Bob DeWard, DVM for your generous support of this event. Mt Rainier Equine put together a Hydration Station in the vendor area this year, offering relief from the heat to horses and humans!

And we cannot say thank you too many times to the incredible Dan McCallister and his wife Julie for everything they did to make this event possible. They were delightful to work with and we hope that we can continue this event for many years to come!

We’d also like to thank Pilchuck Vet Hospital, who donated bottles of Ecovet Fly Repellent for each of our Gambler’s Choice competitors — great stuff, thank you so much!!