‘A Day With Horses’ brings community together

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This Andalusian horse, Alborozo, will be featured Saturday in A Day With Horses at the Malibu Equestrian Center. The event is for the enjoyment of several children's organizations and the community. Photo by Herrn Thomas Kilper

Gymnastics on horseback, costumed riders and even equine poetry are all part of a local event on Saturday, called A Day With Horses.

Put on by members of the Malibu community, many of whom will come with their own horses in tow, this free exhibit will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Malibu Equestrian Center, for the enjoyment of Free Arts For Abused Children and other children’s organizations-and anyone else who loves horses.

And perhaps best of all, horse enthusiasts can pet their favorite animals at the end of the exhibit.

How did this horse-a-rama come about?

“It’s an unusual story,” said Christina Paradise Kowalewsky of Malibu, one of the participants who thought up the idea. She said a volunteer at Free Arts for Abused Children, which provides activities for children placed in foster homes, mentioned she’d like to bring the children to pet Kowalewsky’s horses. They agreed to meet at the Malibu Equestrian Center.

A short time before the rendezvous, Kowalewsky was at a horse camp when she mentioned the children wanting to see her horses. One of her friends at the camp jumped in and offered to bring her horse, too. Others wanted to participate, and the event “snowballed from there into a giant horse-petting adventure, which has turned into what my husband calls ‘an extravaganza,'” Kowalewsky said.

Clearing the way for this “extravaganza,” the City of Malibu provided a permit for the event, at no charge.

“I love the community of Malibu,” Kowalewsky said, recognizing the people, most of whom are locals, who helped plan A Day With Horses.

She is especially delighted to have a champion Andalusian-a Spanish horse-which will “dance” during his performance.

“He’s gorgeous,” she enthused. “He really does look like he jumped out of a fairy tale book.”

Most of the riders are coming in costume. Kowalewsky’s husband, Donald, will be dressed as a knight in shining armor, a costume his wife originally bought for him for Halloween so he and their Friesian steed could accompany the neighborhood children as they went trick-or-treating.

Another Malibuite, Toni Semple, will don a costume straight out of “The Arabian Nights” to showcase her Arabian horse, and Jackie Peterson, dressed like she escaped from the pages of “Gone With the Wind,” will ride a Tennessee walking horse.

Award-winning rider Ellen Francisco will demonstrate what her quarter horse can do during a Western obstacle course. And Carol Bird, atop her Dutch Warmblood, will offer a jumping demonstration.

Other horses and activities include a miniature horse named Shrimp, a paint horse ridden by Mary Lou Miller in full Native American costume, stuntwoman Glory Fioramonti performing stunts on her quarter horse, Valley View Vaulters performing gymnastics on horseback-called horse vaulting, and horse poetry recited by actress Blake Lindsley.

The event will also be educational.

“We will explain the history of the horse during the demonstrations,” Kowalewsky said. “It will be like a history lesson for the kids.”

As a lesson in horseplay, Steve Perron will present a demonstration on how horses play with each other and how humans can play those same games with horses. He’ll also offer insights on how horses perceive good leadership in their riders.

And not to ignore the fact that horses are hefty animals, Rod Bergen, who teaches horse clinics in Malibu and riding classes at Pierce College, will be present to “provide guidance for safety for the horses and participants,” he said.

“Chris contacted me for two reasons,” Bergen said. “No. 1, because I’m in the horse community and know horses, and because I’m a reserve deputy sheriff. Horses are three-to-five times faster, 10-to-20 times bigger and stronger and can outthink humans every time. It’s not a fair match.”

Another reason he’ll be at Saturday’s festivities is because he supports Free Arts for Abused Children, and has helped the organization previously with various activities.

Kowalewsky said A Day With Horses was loosely coordinated and may not be very organized. But that didn’t seem to bother her much-it’s the spirit of the event that makes it worthwhile for her.

“Local horse people who want to introduce children to horses,” she said simply.

The Malibu Equestrian Center is located on Merritt Drive, two blocks up from Pacific Coast Highway, across from Zuma Beach.

For more information on Free Arts for Abused Children,

call 310.313.4ART or visit www.freearts.org.