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Ta Ta Trot benefits those fighting breast cancer

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Fiona Wardle (front) and her stepsister, Jordyn Zeliff, with their horses during the Ta Ta Trot at the Jackson County Expo Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRiders walk their horse in competition during the Ta Ta Trot at the Jackson County Expo Saturday.
Horse show allows enthusiasts to show their riding skills and don fun costumes to help raise money

A year after not having the Ta Ta Trot Benefit Show in 2020 because of the Almeda fire, the Jackson County Horseman’s Association again held its fundraiser at The Expo on Saturday to help residents with breast cancer.

About 90 horse riders entered the show, which offered dozens of competitions for riders of all ages and levels. But what makes this show unique is costume competitions that allow horses and their humans to dress up and compete for which wore the best costumes.

And after the entrants ages 7 and younger rode past the judges -- which included a horse dressed as a unicorn, a horse and rider clown pair and a creation that was described by some as a dragon and others a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle -- it was declared that all of these young participants won first place because of shared cuteness.

Older entrants and their horses were dressed as lions and an angel rider atop a horse disguised as a devil.

They also devoted a segment to a Ta Ta Trot around the ring by participants.

A couple of girls from Rogue River also displayed plenty of imagination with their costumes. Jordyn Zeliff, 11, was dressed as a pink rabbit and her horse was wearing a small magician’s top hat and a black cape with sparkling stars and crescent moons. Fiona Wardle, 10, was dressed as a hunter with a bow slung over her shoulder while her tiny horse, named Roy, posed as a reindeer for the day, complete with a set of reindeer horns.

The girls are stepsisters and have been around horses most of their lives.

Staci Wardle, one of their parents, said she has known a couple of people who had breast cancer over the years, including someone she grew up with, a family friend, and one of her midwives.

“It’s a super-common thing it seems like, unfortunately,” she said wistfully about the disease.

Many of the riders who didn’t wear a costume wore pink in varying degrees to show their support for the cause by wearing simple pink ribbon lapel pins, pick shirts or a pick blankets on their horse’s back beneath the saddle.

Two teen girls from Grants Pass both wore small amounts of pink. They were entered into 15 competitions, which are referred to as classes. Adding a costume change into the middle of the show would have been a lot in one day, said Delaney Skinner, 18. She and friend Jackie Whittler, 17, both sat astride their horses as they spoke between competitions.

Among people they knew who had suffered from breast cancer was a teacher and a great-aunt.

Both try to compete in several horse riding events each year and were happy to participate in this fundraiser.

“It makes a difference,” Skinner explained.

Sandi Humphfres, a member of the Jackson County Horseman’s Association, inspired the first of these events nearly a decade ago, said Sebina Martin, one of the organizers of this benefit horse show and the association president.

The idea was to help Humphfres with her medical and related expenses. It refocused to help others dealing with breast cancer cover their costs once Humphfres healed.

And, “we have a lot of fun with the costumes,” Martin added.

Proceeds from entrants’ fees and donations go to the Asante Mammogram Fund and the support group Riding Beyond, which provides those experiencing the harsh effects of breast cancer treatment to develop relationships with horses to help promote healing.

Visit the Jackson County Horseman’s Association Facebook page for details on how to donate to this cause.