CCHA was formed around 1970. Some of the people who were instrumental in organizing the club were Thomas Devereaux, Chautauqua County 4-H Agent, Edward Martin, DVM, James Leahey, DVM, owners of Moonbrook Veterinary Hospital, where I was employed at the time & Lee Harkness.
The original name was Chautauqua County Horsemen’s Assoc. After a time & we were fortunate enough to have an Attorney as a member, it was decided to change the name to Chautauqua Country Horsemen’s Assoc., Inc., because we had members residing in Cattaraugus, NY & Warren County, PA & we did not want to discourage them from becoming members.
The primary purpose of the organization was to encourage area people to become involved in learning all aspects of the Equine Industry. Some of the original members included ourselves along with Steve & Marilyn Brainard, Lenny & Sue Brainard, Laura Gilbert, Carol Lorenc, Fred Drake, John & Dorothy Pearson & Doug Hayes. Of course, there were many more that joined within a short time, due to the interest the club created. Our membership roster kept growing due to the interest the club created. Our membership roster averaged around 100 members at the time.
The meetings were held once a month at the Chautauqua County Ag. Center. The Board of Directors also meant once a month, which has now been changed with meetings request at the direction of the President.
At one time Tom Devereaux was very interested in the club purchasing land & building, a large complex which would be used for our own use & we in turn would rent it to other organizations for various events. Tom, Carol Lorenc & myself visited indoor arenas. Much discussion was held & finally decided, it just wasn’t feasible in all aspects, so it was dropped.
Our monthly agenda always included speakers i.e. Nutrition, Health, Training, Foaling, Parasites, Blacksmiths & every other interesting programs we could come up with. Our socializing activities included an annual Pig Roast held at the Den Adelman’s Club on the Salisbury Rd. & an Annual Christmas Party held at several locations but mainly at the Randolph Legion.
From these meetings we began to grow to other outside activities. The first being the annual Ski-Jorring & Cutter Races being held at Cockaigne Ski area in Sinclairville, NY. The event was held on the old racetrack. The track & barns were built with the assistance of Harry Hurd, Almond, NY. & Cockaigne. We drew crowds from all over as this was the first Ski-Jorring that was ever held East of the Mississippi. The Ohio “ski” people couldn’t wait to get hold of a rope towed by a horse who raced against against other horses. How ever, after several “close call” incidents, such as a horse & sleigh going thru the pond in the infield & a horse & cutter going over the bank & barely missing the crowd of people & a new car, it was decided to no longer have this event, due to our liability & Cockaigne no longer wanting to take a chance. The track actually was built for the Western NY Quarter Horse Club to hold Thoroughbred races there, but were not successful.
Our regular meetings began to grow in number & we began to have top speakers. Some of them were Mr. Tiznik of Tiznik Feeds, Bud Beesley, Farrier Scholl in Ok., Charlie Crowley, maker of Crowley Saddles which I own & always enjoyed. Most of these meetings were held at JCC. Joan DuPont of Virginia gave a clinic at the Warren Co. Fairgrounds. She is highly recognized as a judge & was considered one of the top riders & trainers of hunter-jumpers. We also invested many $’s in top films, such as, International Driving Competitions, Training, & many other films to numerous to mention. They were all donated to the Jamestown Public Library.
The first Sleigh Rally was held at the Randolph Firemen’s Grounds. One year it was so warm that everyone just had sweaters on & the snow melted very fast. The next year it was a very cold rain. The next year there was a blizzard. They closed Rt. 17 & horses were stalled at Lee Harkness’s barn until they could get home a day or two later. Even with all the bad weather the Rally became popular, so it was then moved to Chautauqua Institution grounds, where4 it has been held ever since.
We then began to hold horse shows & joined the P.O.N.Y. Assoc. Our first shows were held at the Stockton 4-H Acres. As time went on, we formed the Stallion Service Auction, which was held at the old Kimballstand Auction Barn. The response was tremendous. The barn area & auction area were packed. A tack sale was also held in conjunction with the sale. Both were a great success. The CCHA Stallion Service Sale Futurity was formed. Later, Bill & I originated the Open Futurities. Both are still yearly events. (note: due to lack of participation, buyers & liability this event is no longer held) When we no longer could hold the event at Kimballstand, we then held a blind auction at the Jamestown Holiday Inn & at a motel where Sam’s Club now stands & from there it again went back to a live auction. These auctions were very successful, but it was decided to go back to the live auction & hold the tack sale. We then held it at Karen Henry’s Indoor Arena on South Main St., until she bagan to go into other phases of the horse industry. From there it has been held at various places.
I’m sure I have left our some things but to date we are still very active & encourage new members to join us. Times have changed & expenses have increased leaving us with no alternative but to change some of our programs. We are always open to ideas & hope all member will become more involved with the events that we do hold.
I cannot recall the years that some of the other events were held, but I will try & list what I can remember.
Carriage Show-Ride & Drive- Held at Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds
Always held a Carriage Drive yearly, mainly met at the Nichol Inn & dinner after.
Held a Trail Ride every year. Usually held at the Nichol Inn & once at Red Wing & RedHouse. Always enjoyed dinner afterwards.
Therapeutic Riding held at Chautauqua County Trail Riders grounds.
Endurance Riding held over by Sinclairville a couple of years.
I hope this has given you some insight in the past history of our club. I am sure I have left our some things but as you can see, we have tried it all.