Nearly 30 years ago, Oliver Baker of Mount Airy, the late Jack Boone and a group of fellow horse enthusiasts dreamed of creating an organization dedicated to family, fellowship and horsemanship.
Their dream became a reality in 1965 with the chartering of the Mount Airy Saddle Pals. Several months later, the Mount Airy Fire Company gave the group permission to build a show ring on the company's Twin Arch Road property.
Herman Koontz, Henry Magaha, Gene Romsburg, Calvin Wright, Raymond Barrie, Gene Hetrick, Tommy Lowman, Mr. Boone and Mr. Baker were some of the charter members of the Saddle Pals. Mr. Boone originated the idea, Mr. Baker said.
Although its membership has waxed and waned through the years, the organization continues to enrich the lives of its members.
Mr. Baker said a common misperception is that the Mount Airy Saddle Pals is a riding stable.
"It's a family horse club," he said.
The organization provides planned activities for members and their horses. Each year, the club holds a banquet, a family picnic, one or two trail rides per month, two shows, occasional overnight camping trips and participates in area parades.
Events are planned when the club meets on the first Monday evening of the month. When the club was at its largest, meetings were held in area churches. With approximately 30 members now on the roster, meetings are at members' homes.
The club is open to all horse enthusiasts. Children 14 and under must be accompanied by a parent. Membership costs $10 a year.
Mr. Baker said dollars raised through dues and the shows cover the club's expenses, plus an annual donation to the fire department.
"Last year we gave $1,000," he said.
On Sunday, the Mount Airy Saddle Pals will conduct its annual Fall English and Western Horse Show at the Mount Airy Carnival Grounds. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the show starts at 8:30 a.m. Chris Morgan will judge the event.
Spectators are welcome at the free show, which will go on rain or shine.
From barrel racing to jumping classes, the entertaining show features 35 classes to test the skills of the horses and their riders. Riders pay a $4-per-class fee to participate. A $1 discount is given to Saddle Pals members.
Human participants will range from "over-35" riders to youth equestrians.
Mr. Baker and his wife, Betty, will attend Sunday's show in the morning only because they will be pursuing another horse-oriented hobby -- carriage riding -- later in the day.
The Bakers, who were active Saddle Pals as their three children grew, also belong to two carriage clubs -- the Rose Hill Manor Carriage Club in Frederick and the Free Wheelers in West Virginia.
The couple have two horses, Midnight and Shadow, and a Welsh standard-bred pony named Pepper.
One of the Bakers' prize possessions is a shiny, black wooden carriage built in the late 1800s by a New York undertaker and carriage shop owner, W. J. Businberre.
The Saddle Pals plan an overnight camping trip in a few weeks, and the Rose Hill Manor "Drive Through Frederick" is scheduled Oct. 17.
"We could go every weekend if I wanted to," he said.
Mr. Baker, now retired, is Saddle Pals president, and has served in that position off and on since the club began.
L "I'm ready to turn over the reins to someone else," he said.
7+ Information: Mr. Baker, (301) 829-0307.
Horseshoes will be ringing donations for Carroll County Special Olympics on Saturday, thanks to the 12th annual Horseshoe Tournament sponsored by Rewster's Restaurant of Taylorsville.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. for the all-day event, at the Winfield Fire Hall on West Old Liberty Road. The double-elimination, best-of-three tourney begins 9 a.m.
Rewster's Restaurant is the largest annual contributor to Carroll County Special Olympics, with a total of more than $22,200 in donations.
Bees Distributing Inc. will supply the trophies, and beer that will be sold for donations at the event. Rewster's will donate a major portion of the tourney's food, which includes pit beef and sausage sandwiches. Convenience Catering will supply sodas and ham.
The tournament work force will be volunteers from Rewster's, Bees Distributing, Convenience Catering and the Woodbine Recreation Council.
Proceeds will be used for uniforms, transportation and medals for Special Olympics activities for an estimated 140 county residents with developmental disabilities.
The tournament entry fee is $10 per team. First- , second- and third-place trophies will be awarded.
Spectators are welcome.
Information: (410) 875-2555.
Mount Airy Elementary School PTA's Annual Fall KidStuff yard sale will be from 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow at the school's athletic field on North Main Street. Browsers and bargain hunters are encouraged to attend the fund-raising event, which traditionally features a wide variety of child-oriented items.
Information: (301) 829-1544.
The Mount Airy Fire Company will conduct an adult dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. tomorrow at the Firemen's Activities Building on Twin Arch Road.
On The Border will provide music. The fund-raiser will be BYOB, with sodas, chips and pretzels provided as part of the $8 per person admission.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling (301) 829-2868. Tables for eight to 10 may be reserved in advance.
* Mount Airy Fire Company volunteers will urge parents and their children to "learn not to burn" at an open house Sunday at the new station on North Main Street.
The free event, part of the company's annual Fire Prevention Week observance, will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be free gifts for children, door prizes and "learn-not-to-burn" stations to reinforce fire safety rules. Light refreshments will be served.
Guided tours of the fire station will be conducted during the afternoon, and the company's rescue and firefighting equipment will be on display.
* American Legion Post 191 will offer Bonanza Bingo on Sunday.
Doors open at noon; a turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be served at 12:30 p.m. The 32 paper games, featuring cash prizes, begin at 2 p.m. The cost of the fund-raiser is $25 per person in advance, or $30 at the door.
Information: 795-6444, or William Chaney, (301) 829-2311.