The longstanding tradition of Winter Woolies Horse Show continues this year


Children and adults have gathered to celebrate their passions for all things equine at Winter Woolies Horse Show since the 1980s.

Continuing tradition, Winter Woolies will host competitions once again during January, February and March this year at the Clark County Event Center, 17200 NE Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Alice Heller, president of the Clark County Executive Horse Council, has helped host the Winter Woolies Horse Show since 1990.

The competitions began after the community funded and built an indoor arena at the Clark County Fairgrounds, Heller said. Locals wanted an indoor area to ride during the winter.

“They used it as a fundraiser. It was a way to recoup the funds put into the arena,” Heller said.

Winter Woolies has become locally famous for its famous high-point buckle trophies. Other objects were used as prizes when Winter Woolies first began, Heller said. Crystal glass objects, including wine glasses, were trendy. Times have changed, and the customizable buckle trophies now reign supreme at the horse show.

“People love them because they can wear them and show,” Heller said. “We used to have them already done and would hand them out in the last show in March.”

To earn a buckle, attendees must participate in and win in each show, from January through March. Winners are provided with a form at the final horse show in March, allowing them to customize their buckle trophy.

Though the buckles are a coveted prize, many of the Winter Woolies competitors are participating for fun.

“Some of these people do go on to world shows and breed shows. But some of these people just want to get out and do something in the winter,” Heller said. “We try not to make it so strict. It’s a fun show.”

Winter Woolies Horse Show features a wide range of competitions. They include foal and mini-horse shows, halter championships, English equitation, English pleasure, showmanship, Western pleasure and the return of the driving competition. Competitors from ages 2 to 89 are welcome.

For older competitors, Winter Woolies Horse Show has added a new class for those 39 and older.

Heller’s favorite competition is the lead line class, where young riders are led on a horse before the crowd.

“We have the little kids who aren’t really riding yet. They’re on the horse, but it’s being led around,” Heller said. “It’s just so cute to see some of these little kids smiling. We place all of them as first-place winners.”

The first weekend of Winter Woolies Horse Show will start at 8 a.m., Jan. 13 and Jan. 14. Horse trainer Torry Brooks will judge the first weekend. The second competition will take place at 8 a.m., Feb. 10 and Feb. 11. Cristi Vanderhoof from Olympia will judge the second weekend. The final show will be at 8 a.m., March 9 and March 10. Steve Bryson, a Washington High School Equestrian Team judge, will judge the last weekend.

The first weekend of Winter Woolies will have a tack sale, benefitting the Battle Ground High School Equestrian Team.

To learn more about the Winter Woolies Horse Show or register for the competition, visit the Clark County Executive Horse Council’s website,