Horse show organizers say this year’s show was their last

Hunter Herbaugh Ranger-review Staff Writer
Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Participants came from across the region to attend the Eastern Montana Horse Show over the years. This year’s event is expected to be the last. Ranger-Review file photo

After being held in Glendive for over 20 years, it was recently announced that this year’s Eastern Montana Horse Show Circuit would be the last to come to the community for the foreseeable future. Local organizers Ann McRae and Cheryl Corneliusen made the announcement after this year’s show that they would be retiring from organizing the competition, though the show will continue in other communities.

The show has been held in Glendive for over 25 years, with McRae having been involved in some capacity since it originally came here.

The EMHSC was started in 1994 by four individuals, with one each coming from Wibaux, Baker, Glendive and Miles City. It was started as a family-friendly form of equestrian competition that they were hopeful all ages could enjoy. When the show began, it included categories that accommodated men, women and children of all age groups. McRae herself took part in the first competition in Glendive at the then-Berry Arena (now the J & A Arena) and officially became an organizer several years later in 1997 alongside Brenda Fisher.

“We wanted to get people involved with the horses, more families. We used to have a men’s class,” McRae said.

At its height, the EMHSC had shows in Glendive, Miles City, Baker, Wibaux, Forsyth and Sidney, according to Corneliusen.

Fisher passed away in 2009, at which point McRae said she tried recruiting Corneliusen. Corneliusen has also participated in the competition along with her kids and said she finally officially joined as an organizer about five years ago.

However, though they are both experienced at it, organizing a horse show isn’t easy, help is hard to find and recent years have seen participation declining. Corneliusen noted these were all factor that led to her and McRae’s decision to retire from hosting the show in Glendive.

“It’s just a lack of people to help and our numbers have been down over the years,” Corneliusen said. “It a lot of work and we need a lot of helpers.”

As for participants, McRae and Corneliusen noted that more and more people seem to be leaning more towards rodeos rather than showmanship competitions. Even younger kids are getting more involved in rodeos more and more as the years go by.

“People are not coming out. Most of our contestants have grown up and they’re getting into big stuff, like rodeo,” McRae said.

On top of the low turnouts and difficulty finding help, McRae and Corneliusen also noted their age and additional responsibilities. McRae noted she actually tried retiring several years ago after having multiple joint surgeries, but ended up staying on a bit longer.

Without an event organizer in Glendive, that leaves only two communities left in the EMHSC, those being Miles City and Baker.

In the meantime, while they retire from the horse show, both of them said they will continue to be involved with teaching kids about horses however they can. Both are at-large leaders for the Dawson County 4-H and plan to continue serving in that capacity to teach kids about horses and showmanship.

They are also holding out some hope for the future that someone will be interested in taking over for them, as they would ideally like to see the show continue to be hosted in Glendive. If or when that may happen though is uncertain, as Corneliusen noted that it is a large commitment to organize the shows.

“We hope someone steps up to take it on, we really wish it would continue, but you have to really commit to it, it’s a lot of work,” she said.

“It’s been a great run, I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” McRae added.

Reach Hunter Herbaugh at rrreporter@rangerreview. com.