Organization creates scholarships for local students

For more than 12 years, the Magnolia Community Horse Club has supported local equine enthusiasts and awarded scholarships to Montgomery County students.

Led by board of directors President Hurshel Haley, the organization hosts year-round competitions and events for horse lovers, and also waives rental fees for certain local organizations such as 4-H.

"It's just a really good organization to be involved with," said Kitten Perry, first vice president of the club's board of directors. "If you have family or children in school, we give great scholarships to students. It's so family friendly and great for families to enjoy outings together."

All money raised through event registration and concessions at the arena go toward scholarships, Haley said. In 2012 the group met its goal of $10,000 in local scholarships, and it hopes to award more this year.

Scholarships are awarded first and foremost to Montgomery County students, but students in others counties are also eligible.

Haley said the group has about 90 renewed members to date and the total continues to increase each week. A membership costs $40 per year per household, which equates to about 10 cents per day.

"We have our memberships per household so that a mother and daughter or family members can participate together," said Deana Haley, Hurshel's wife and the club's treasurer.

The small fee buys individuals lock codes to the horse arena and various buildings within the facility as well as the ability to use the arena at night with the newly installed lights, which turn off at 10 p.m. Montgomery County residents can use the arena during the day, however, and can contact the club to schedule a riding time.

Perry said the club's wide age range shows the impact horse riding and companionship has on a person's development.

"When [children] see what they can accomplish and the horse responds, it's really rewarding," she said. "It makes them feel really confident because they taught something successfully."

Deana and Hurshel are working to schedule weekend events for the remainder of the year. Competition and event fees are usually $35, and the club keeps 25 percent of admission fees for its scholarship fund, while the remainder is returned to riders and organizations.

The Haleys have been involved with the club since shortly after moving to the area in the late 80s, and they have no plans of quitting anytime soon.

"I can't remember a time when I didn't ride," Deana said.

Types of events

The horse club hosts several competitions and events each month. Other equine organizations also rent out the facility for weekend activities.

  • Jackpot barrel racing: Riders participate in a four-division barrel race where the first division of riders sets the speed for the lower divisions. Admission fee is $35.
  • Pole bends: Riders weave their horses through six poles in this timed event. Admission fee is $35.
  • Halloween play day: Children can dress their horses in Halloween costumes and participate in a variety of racing competitions.
  • Western pleasure: A style competition, riders are evaluated on their horse's manners and if its ride appears to be smooth and pleasurable.

Magnolia Community Horse Club, 31245 Friendship Drive, Magnolia, 281-259-5643,