Horses and Philanthropy

The Value of Barns as Sponsors

by Eva Gill

The return to a normal horse show has been a winding path. As with all things COVID, evolution comes in sudden changes and sharp turns. As a community, we are tired of restrictions and ready for a long awaited normal, which is arriving in changes that feel like a fresh breeze. Large hunter jumper shows are back, and the excitement to participate is high. Exhibitors and participants look forward to the return of competition, camaraderie, and longstanding traditions. 

Claire Archer on Clockwise in the 2019 Grand Prix

The Oregon High Desert Classics (OHDC) is unique in that it is an annual fundraiser for the non-profit J Bar J Youth Services, and not operated by an equine facility. On the J Bar J Boys Ranch near Bend, an empty field becomes a showground each summer. The OHDC provides funding not only for the Boys Ranch, but also for their other programs help at-risk youth in Central Oregon. Cancellation and loss of funding last year created a large gap. 

This year, stables, breeders, and equine facilities have stepped up to make up for the loss of corporate support. Because horseback riding is social distanced by nature and largely outdoors or in large arenas, it continued through the pandemic while other activities were limited. Many of these trainers and operations have paid it forward and their support will bridge the gap, setting OHDC 2021 up for one of their best years ever. 

The similarity between focused, directed thinking J Bar J Youth Services teaches and the mindset and resilience trainers work to impart in young riders resonates with many of the trainers. One J Bar J program, The Academy at Sisters, even uses Equine Assisted Psychotherapy in their work with girls. The horses provide an immediate feedback loop and help the girls talk about issues. Trainers also tell us they love seeing the youth from the Boys Ranch, the Academy, and Grandma’s House working during the show to make it a success. 

We spoke with a few of this year’s OHDC sponsors about their contributions to this year’s show. Sandee Archer said: “The Oregon High Desert Classic is by far Charlebois Farms’ favorite show of the year. J Bar J Youth Services believes in focusing on strengths and building resilience, and at Charlebois Farms we coach these same principles in our approach to horsemanship and equestrian competition. The dedicated volunteers, experienced staff, and picturesque setting combine to create an uplifting spirit unique to this event.” 

From Denize Borges of Crystal Image Farms: “(We have) been supporting the Oregon High Desert Classics as an owner, rider, sponsor and trainer for over 20 years. We love giving back to J Bar J Youth Services, such an important and necessary organization in Central Oregon. It is so refreshing to see all of the youth playing an important part in the success of the horse shows at J Bar J.” 

Barn sponsorships make this show possible.

Akiko Hamada of Stellar Sport horses added: “We have been involved as a sponsor of the Oregon High Desert Classics for around 15 years now because it’s an honor to support a worthwhile organization such as J Bar J Youth Services. As horse show exhibitors, we look forward to competing and spending time with our friends, both human and equine, in beautiful Central Oregon, but knowing we are helping J Bar J’s efforts to shape and build confidence in their youth for a more positive and successful future makes this show a very special event for us.” 

As this year’s OHDC events approach, our team is grateful for the outpouring of support from the equine community. Pam White talked about the impact it will have: “Having been a long-time event coordinator working with J Bar J Youth Services and the Oregon High Desert Classics, I am amazed this year at the number of people in the equestrian community that are sponsoring and therefore supporting the horseshow and the work that J Bar J does for the youth in the community.” 

This year’s sponsors have helped secure the future for the Oregon High Desert Classics and all of J Bar J Youth services programs. Pam goes on: “Their generosity and philanthropic nature have put this years’ event at an all-time high for sponsorships. We have seen an increase of new sponsors from the barns around the northwest and an increase of sponsor dollars from our long-time equestrian community supporters. A big thank you to all of them for helping us continue this premier event and moving forward with the future of J Bar J Youth Services.” 

J Bar J Youth Services includes Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon, J Bar J Boys Ranch & J5, The Academy at Sisters, Cascade Youth & Family Center, Grandma’s House, Kindred Connections, at: project, and the Learning Center and Vocational School at J Bar J. 

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