20 Jul Sunshine Classic Gala Brightened by Raise of Support
Arena-side guests watched 26 horse and rider pairs navigate a course of timed jumps. Southern California’s most athletic and accomplished equestrians and their horses competed for a $15,000 Grand Prix purse, won by Lane Clarke of Laguna Niguel.
The annual four-day equestrian event, held by West Palms Event Management, and the Saturday evening Gala returned after being sidelined in 2020 due to COVID-19. As Free Rein’s major fundraiser to support the 100-percent volunteer organization’s rescue of horses plus equine therapy and learning sessions, the Gala’s return was cause for celebration.
“Until California re-opened in June, we couldn’t commit to hosting the event,” shares President of Free Rein Foundation Justine Makoff. “Once we had the green light to mobilize, the Gala sold out within 10 days. It was an amazing testament to the enthusiasm people have for this very special event, and for fulfilling the mission of Free Rein Foundation.”
Along with the competition, guests enjoyed a warm summer breeze, meeting a rescued mustang, a delicious dinner, refreshments from the Thirsty Horse Saloon and a robust silent auction, with two dozen high-dollar baskets and donated items procured by Free Rein’s volunteers. The highest value auction item, a serigraph donated by the family of the late, renowned artist John Nieto titled “American Survivor,” is a vivid depiction of a Native American and his horse. It went home with Free Rein volunteer Linda Light of Huntington Beach, who placed the winning bid.
Early in the evening, HB Mayor Kim Carr presented Makoff with a commendation award on behalf of the city recognizing Free Rein Foundation “for helping veterans and at-risk youth and rescuing horses–a winning trifecta.”
Huntington Beach News Article by Sheila Holliday