Just under a year ago, Chelli Sage of Maricopa’s Thunderbird Farms asked the simple question: What happened to our community arena? After years of maintenance neglect and minimal use by the community, Pinal County threatened the very existence of this community landmark. The once beloved arena had become an eye-sore and a liability to an increasingly anti-equestrian local government and development movement.
Today, the horse communities of Thunderbird Farms, Papago Buttes, Saddleback Farms, Hidden Valley and Stanfield outside the city of Maricopa have rallied to restore the arena, and the horse community itself, back to blazing glory with a very active Thunderbird Arena Community Council (TACC). The arena was originally built some twenty years ago through the efforts of a similar group, the Papago Butte Riders Association. They are proud of the progress made to-date.
With tenacious fundraising through pancake breakfasts, barn dances, food concessions, equestrian events, raffles and auctions, and community donations, TACC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organization, has successfully funded:
• Painting of the expansive arena rails
• Repair of arena lighting
• Contracted permanent portable toilets
• Restoration of arena footing to competitive specifications
Rid O Rock, along with countless volunteers, removed rocks from the arena and the dirt itself is worked regularly with arena equipment and watered down for events through a partnership with the local water district. Future plans include shaded bleachers for spectators, hitching rails and safety improvements to the crow’s nest (for announcer and time recorder).
The footing was critical to TACC’s desire to draw more barrel racers to their monthly gymkhanas. TACC also hopes to draw in local ropers, penners, cattle sorters and mounted shooters for clinics and events. The American Miniature Horse Association, who already hosted a successful event, also plans to continue hosting annual sanctioned events.
Since last Fall, TACC has successfully hosted two arena obstacle challenges, one cattle sorting clinic and competition, one American Miniature Horse Association horse show and now holds monthly gymkhanas worthy of the best local & regional talent with barrel and pole patterns.
TACC recently established its very own drill team, the Thunderbird Arena Country Cuties. The drill team, composed of local youth and adult riders, is working hard to not only perform at local events, but aspires to also do parades.
For more information on upcoming events, visit www.ThunderbirdArena.NET or look for and join our Group on Facebook: TACC – Improving the Thunderbird Arena for the Community
President: Chelli Sage
Vice President: Paula McNatt
Membership & Standings Secretary: Shiloh Garner
General Secretary: Karen Startin
Treasurer: Dawn Sanborn
Equine Events: Bobbie Johnson
Equipment & Volunteers: John Sanborn
2012 Progressive Barrels/Poles Schedule
• June 16 (night)
• July 21 (night)
• August 18 (night)
• September 15 (night)
• October 20 (day)
• November 24 (day)
Gymkhana Event Details:
Join us for a great evening of barrel racing, pole bending and a special surprise event! Come run on the newly reconditioned arena ground and enjoy the renovated lighting. All classes run in a progressive format. You will compete based on your ability, not age. FREE leadline classes for the little ones!
$10/event with 50% cash payback in all events.
$8/arena fee for non-members.
Memberships available at registration desk.
Pole T/O’s from 4PM to 5PM
Barrel T/O’s from 5PM to 6:30PM
Classes will run at 7PM.
Concessions on site. Bring chairs. Remember, TACC is a 501(c)3 public charity.
All proceeds from events goes toward continued arena restoration!
Donations and volunteers always welcome.
No dogs and no alcohol allowed.
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