Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bellevue equestrian to hold benefit for national competition

Support a rider with life-long dreams

Express Staff Writer

Equestrian Sarah Keppner is riding Diamonds and Pearls.

When a person is seeking to achieve a dream, sometimes the will to succeed needs monetary assistance. Equestrian Sarah Keppner of Bellevue will compete in the Fair Hill International, a three-day international equestrian event in Elkton, Md., Oct. 15-18, and hopes to raise money to make the trip. Keppner has already received a sizeable grant from Southern California Equestrian Sports, but needs more assistance to attend the competition.

To raise money for her travel and care needs, Keppner is having a barn party and barbecue event with the Kim Stocking Band on Saturday, July 11. The benefit will also feature No Cheap Horses for the cocktail hour and dinner. A silent auction, horse-drawn wagon rides, horseshoe tournament and games will be included in the festivities.

"I have been an event rider since I was 11 and I am now 35," Keppner said. "The party will raise money for the cost of training and traveling because I will be gone for a month."

Keppner and her husband run Bell Mountain Farm, and keeping a horse in top condition for competition is costly and time consuming.

"Horses get banged up and they need masseuse, acupuncture and new shoes every eight weeks," Keppner said. "I have not bought a new pair of shoes [for myself] in three years."

Event riding involves cross-country riding with jumps. Keppner said competing in the East is different than in the West because there are so many more professionals there. Also, the cross-country courses in the West are much different than in the East. In California, where Keppner does a great deal of competing, the courses are sandy and flat. In the East, they have grass, trees and lots of hills.

"I am very excited to have the opportunity to go East," she said. "It's a good place to see how I stack up. I am a little nervous."

Keppner's horse, named Diamond and Pearls after a Prince song of the same title, will take four days to arrive in Maryland.

A social hour will take place at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. The Bell Mountain Farm is located at 83 Browning Place in the Bellevue triangle. Tickets are $25 adults, $10 children 8-12 and free for children under 12. Tickets are available at Guffy's and Sawtooth Tack & Feed in Bellevue. For details call 788-4510.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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