SAN MARCOS — Giddyup for the fourth annual Poker Ride and Stride on Oct. 10 followed by the Horse Heritage Festival in Walnut Grove Park in San Marcos.
The events benefit Heritage Park, the Equestrian Arena at Walnut Grove Park, and Training, Education & Research Institute, or TERI, a private, nonprofit agency serving the needs of children and adults with autism and other developmental and learning disabilities, and their families.
Check-in for the Poker Ride and Stride is 8 a.m. for horseback riders and 9:30 a.m. for walkers. The 3-mile route follows the city’s trail system through Twin Oaks Valley and takes about an hour for riders to complete, a little longer for those on foot.
“The riding and walking should be finished when the festival ends at 10 or 10:30 a.m.,” organizer Patty Morton said.
Five cart stations will be set up along the route where participants who have paid a $100 entry fee collect a playing card in a sealed envelope.
“At the end of the ride, the dealer opens the envelope and everybody’s cards are recorded,” Morton said. “You can buy additional cards for $20 each if you want to improve your hand. Then the winning hand is picked.”
Prizes for the poker game include packages for Legoland and a wine country bed and breakfast.
Last year 35 riders and 12 walkers took part in the competition, raising approximately $8,000. Those who want to walk or ride, but do not want to participate in the poker game, can do so for a $35 fee which includes a commemorative T-shirt.
“Money raised by the poker game will be used for upgrading and renovating the horseshow grounds at Walnut Grove Park,” Morton said. “In years past, we bought bleachers with the money, covers for the bleacher and rubber mats to make the trail bridge safe. We also rebuilt the footing in the warm up arena.”
Proceeds from a raffle will also benefit the horse park.
“It is one of the only public riding facilities in the county of San Diego,” she said. “It’s up to the public to improve and maintain it. Nobody was raising money to do that until people became aware of the conditions a few years ago when soccer moved into the park. We realized we treasure this public horse venue so we make sure we put time and energy into upgrading it.”
The focal point of activities will shift at 10 a.m. to the Horse Heritage Festival which ends at 2 p.m. The San Marcos Historical Society, the Twin Oaks Valley Homeowners Association, the San Marcos High School FFA and TERI, Inc. have joined the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association in hosting the festival.
“The historical society is opening up the museum,” Morton said. “This year we want to partner with them to bring attention to Heritage Park and the history of horses in Twin Oaks Valley.”
The day’s activities will include horse and barrel racing demonstrations, pony rides, frontier games, a petting zoo, an old time country fair and sweet shoppe, Grandma’s attic rummage sale and historical home tours. There will also be pumpkin painting and pie eating contests every 30 minutes. A barbecue lunch will feature Dave’s pork and chicken and Tina’s cole slaw. Music will be provided by City Limits with Christine Marie.
For more details, visit www.keepitequestrian.com or call the San Marcos Historical Society at (760) 744-9025.