Contributor: Linda Zimmerman
In the spring of 1965, a small group Northern Nevada Arabian horse owners met with the intention of forming a club supportive of the Arabian horses’ multi talents and bonding the Arabian owners, as well. The result was that in September of 1965, the Nevada Secretary of State recognized the formation of Comstock Arabian Association. Some of the names of those gathered at that formative meeting may be familiar to ‘old time’ horsemen in the Reno area. Included were Earl Guyton, owner of Earl’s Western Wear – a genuine western store in downtown Reno – and owner of Overlook Farwa, a National Reserve Champion Cutting horse; Frank Dodd, a Fernley resident and breeder of fine Morgan horses as well as Arabians; Hazel Lucas, another resident of Fernley who successfully bred racing Arabians for many years; Agnes and Ernie Hutton, respected Arabian breeders; Mildred Beedle, breeder and supreme showman of Arabian horses for seven decades; Sylvia Fascio, the sole living charter member of the Comstock Arabian Association. Most all of these individuals served as president for a year or two in the first fourteen years of Comstock’s existence. The first horse show that Comstock Arabian Association sponsored was in 1966 at the Washoe County Fairgrounds on Wells Avenue (now called the Reno Sparks Livestock Events Center). Monthly meetings, sometimes standing room only, were held at the old Washoe Horsemen’s Clubhouse on Skyline Boulevard in Reno for years. Playdays, clinics and the club Royalty Contests were annually held in the arena at Washoe Horsemen’s facility, as well. Comstock Arabian Association hosted Arabian horse shows, beginning with the initial one in 1966, every year for approximately 30 years at the Washoe County Fairgrounds and then, for economic reasons, moved the shows to Fuji Park in Carson City. The Arabian horse shows were annual events at Fuji for about 20 years with one cancellation in 2014 because smoke from the Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park caused months of unhealthy air quality. In 2016, the Comstock Board of Directors decided to move the May Spring Fiesta Horse Show back to the Reno Livestock Events Center and have been pleased to again host the show for Arabians and Half Arabians in the equine-friendly facility for several years (with the exception of the cancelled show in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In 2019 All Breed Dressage was added to the class line-up and the Arabian Association welcomed other breeds to the show.
In addition to horse shows, the Comstock Arabian Association has a rich history of community involvement including many years of club participation in the annual Reno Rodeo parades and the Nevada Day parades and hosting clinics for all horsemen at Horsemen’s Park and at Lemmon Valley Horsemen’s Arena. A very popular activity for years was the annual Farm Tour that always included visits by club members and other interested horse lovers to three unique Arabian farms where the beautiful foals were the stellar highlight of each farm, stealing the spotlight from their equally beautiful and well-bred dams and sires. Over the years, visits ranged from Paul and Deb Richied’s Ankhara Arabians on Red Rock Road to Arabian farms throughout Reno, Washoe Valley, Carson City and down to Chris and Carmen Altemueller’s Mt. Siegel on the Pine Nut Range. The Comstock Arabian Association frequently participated in the Comstock Equine Hospital’s Horse Expo at Bartley Ranch demonstrating the amazing versatility of the Arabian horse and welcoming kids with coloring books and treats.
The Arabian horse is known for its endurance – and so, of course, the Comstock Arabian Association produced decades of 25 and 50 mile endurance rides. Rides were held in the mountains north of Spanish Springs and in the hills and canyons ranging out of Lemmon Valley Horsemen’s Arena all the way over to Pyramid Highway. Riders from all over northern Nevada and northern California looked forward to John Collier’s terrific dinners offered at the end of the day. Several Comstock members rode in other endurance rides including the Virginia City 100 Mile Ride and the King of Endurance Rides – the Tevis Cup. Pictured here is Sylvia Barker Fascio with her Arabian going up the famous Cougar Rock on the Tevis.
In addition to offering decades and decades of amazing events, the Comstock Arabian Association can brag about its amazing members. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the founders of the association were brilliant horse owners, well known and well respected through the Arabian community. Many large and small Arabian farms have blessed and continue to bless the area with beautiful, talented and intelligent Arabian horses. And there have been talented and intelligent youth that the Association can also claim. Currently we can name four very successful trainers that were youth members of Comstock Arabian Association. Cari Samet Thompson from Gardnerville showed her horses in the Comstock shows as a teenager and now is a very respected and talented Arabian trainer based in Scottsdale, Arizona, operating Cari Thompson Training Center. Bridget Toner Fitzpatrick was a horse crazy kid, showing her horse Leprachon every where she could, and now she runs the highly successful Fitzpatrick Performance Horses in Minden, Nevada. April Dinan Scollard has been training and showing Arabians since she was a teenager and now has a dedicated, enthusiastic group of clients and friends showing with her out of her Misty Blu Arabians training facility located in Lemmon Valley. The ten year old girl who started her show career on a little gray Arabian gelding name B.Z., showing at a Comstock show in the Livestock Pavilion at the Reno Sparks Livestock Events Center (Washoe County Fairgrounds), and quickly advancing to showing National Champions and Top Five Arabians, then building with her folks a state of the art boarding training facility in Pleasant Valley called Reno Tahoe Equestrian Centre, Deborah Johnson, is now President of the national Arabian Horse Association.
There is an active small group of Comstock youth members that continue to love their horses and the activities that go with that privilege. Quarterly youth meetings are held, most recently as Zoom meetings. For several years the youth members have had a blast serving ice cream at the Ice Cream Social offered within the May Spring Fiesta Horse Show and in addition, the younger Comstock members have spread joy during the Christmas season by giving away dozens of creatively decorated cookies. Every year a Royalty Contest is held for Comstock youth. It involves a fair amount of commitment on the contestants part because the contest includes riding a horsemanship pattern, performing a self-created musical ride, presenting an oral educational talk and then answering questions from a panel of three judges. There are two age categories so there is a princess or prince and a queen or a king each year that have the responsibility of representing Comstock Arabian Association in the community.
Another opportunity for the Comstock Arabian Association youth is a long-standing program called “Outstanding Youth” which entails individual youth members completing an application to declare their involvement within the horse community, their school and civic community. There are two age groups for this “Outstanding Youth” honor and the winners receive nice scholarships from the club.
For 15 years or so, Comstock Arabian Association has sponsored open horse shows at Lemmon Valley Horsemen’s Arena called Sagebrush Community Horse Shows. Usually there are four shows during the spring and summer, all offering classes for “All Breeds” of horses, for Color Breeds of horses and for 4-H members as well as specific classes for Arabians and Half Arabians. All classes have jackpot/money paybacks with checks being sent to riders who placed in the classes following the four show season. Multi-faceted High Point and Reserve High Point Awards are available in 15 categories, so the show program is rich with rewards. Check the Comstock Arabian Association website for more details about this fun, open horse show that includes halter, showmanship, sport horse, reining, ranch horse, trail and English and western equitation and pleasure classes. Keep checking for 2022 dates, hopefully starting the show series with and April show at Lemmon Valley Horsemen’s Arena, north of Reno.
The ‘big’ show that Comstock hosts and that is sanctioned by the Arabian Horse Association, United States Equestrian Federation, United States Dressage Federation and the Western Dressage Association of America is scheduled for April 29 and 30 and May 1, 2022, at the Reno Sparks Livestock Events Center. Friday is dedicated to Arabian Classic Dressage, Arabian Western Dressage, All Breed Western Dressage, Hunter Hack, Sport Horse in Hand and Sport Horse Under Saddle. Saturday and Sunday are filled with halter classes and a multitude of rail classes for English, Hunter and Western riders, plus Native Costume, Horsemanship, English and Western Trail, Reining and Ranch Horse Riding. We expect to be able to welcome spectators (free) to the show in 2022. You are invited to come and see the pretty horses!
Comstock Arabian Association invites all riders to come to Cutter Ridge Ranch and Fitzpatrick Performance Horses’ arena for an open Play Day called the Halloween Hoot. This fun show includes classes for leadliners, walk/trotters and 3-gaited riders to show off their Halloween costumes and to ride in equitation and pleasure classes, then coax exhibitors’ horses to bob for apples! This fun day is coming up soon – it will be Saturday, November 6. Look for a class list and entry on the Comstock Arabian Association website www.comstockarabianassociation.com. Entries are only $5 a class. Taster’s Paradise Food Truck will be there all day to provide many delightful specialty coffees, delicious hamburgers and huge tasty wraps and salads.
Membership in the Comstock Arabian Association is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Arabian horse, promoting and encouraging the breeding, use and exhibition of the Arabian/Half Arabian/Anglo Arabian Horse. Most of the club members are from Northern Nevada and Northeast California. Comstock Arabian Association is one of the oldest clubs associated with Region 3 of the Arabian Horse Association. Membership applications may be found on the club website www.comstockarabianassociation.com. Questions can be directed to the club email, as well. Comstockarabianassociation@yahoo.com
Article written by Linda Zimmerman, Comstock Arabian Association Vice President