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Chautauqua Country Horsemans

The first Annual CCHA Sleigh Rally was held in Randolph , New York in 1979 and a blizzard trapped the participants with their horses overnight in Randolph. Despite the rough start the rally was held again the next year. Latter the rally moved to Cockaigne Ski Resort and then to its current location in historic Chautauqua Institution. Chautauqua has been a wonderful place for the rally with its snow covered streets and beautiful Victorian setting. Photographers delight in positioning themselves along the shady streets and by the lakefront to snap photos of the horses and sleighs against the back drop of gingerbread houses and grand hotels!

The Rally will start at 10:30 in the morning on the Jamestown side of the Chautauqua Diner and the Fire House. The classes for draft horses will run first to free the teamsters to give rides to the public for the rest of the day. The Stateline Draft horse Club charges a small fee to people who would like a hay ride on the bob sleighs through the grounds of Chautauqua. This is a favorite activity for the people who turn out to enjoy the day! Both local and out of town folk delight in the winter spectacle in old Chautauqua.   At around noon when the draft horse classes are finished the contestants and their sleighs will line up to parade through Chautauqua in the class known as the Currier and Ives Drive. This is the must see class for spectators, many people call the CCHA Sleigh Rally the Currier and Ives Sleigh Rally because of this wonderful class.

There are separate divisions for light horse, pony, draft and team. This class is the favorite of entrants and spectators alike as it is the most beautiful and traditional part of the day. It is a splendid sight to see all the horses and sleighs going down the streets lined with beautiful old homes and shade trees. You can see dashing Portland cutters, bob sleighs, and graceful, swanlike Albany Cutters! You can see noble black Percheron draft horses and tiny ponies. Every year people admire the nimble Morgan horses with arched necks prancing down the snow covered avenues all the while making music with their merry sleigh bells.

The Currier and Ives class is judged on the suitability of the horse to the sleigh and on the overall turnout of driver, horse, and vehicle as well as the skill of the horse and driver. The entrants drive back to the starting point to hear the judge announce the winner of each division of the Currier and Ives Drive. Ribbons will be awarded in first through fourth places. There are classes held after the Currier and Ives Drive in the arena next to the fire house. These classes are judged more on the skills of horse and driver with some points given for neatness of attire, suitability of harness and vehicle etc. Ribbons will be given for first through fourth place in each class. The contestants may be asked to walk, trot, stand or proceed at a working or extended trot. Ponies, mules, donkeys, and light horses all show in these classes which run for most of the day. At the same time in an area close to the main arena drivers can test their skill in the timed trot and obstacle course. Another class that is unusual and fun is the ride and drive. The entrants are first judged driving their horses, they unhook and saddle up and are then judged on horseback. This class mixes horses and ponies in the same class.

The CCHA will again be raffling off a strap of solid brass sleigh bells by Smuckers Harness Shop for one dollar a chance. They will be for sale from now on and on the day of the Rally.

For pre-rally tickets call Julie Minor of Frewsburg, NY at 716-569-3842. All proceeds from the raffle are to benefit the CCHA Sleigh Rally Fund. Inexpensive food and drink will be available in the Fire Hall during the Rally and folks can warm up while they enjoy the homemade treats made by the Chautauqua Fireman's Auxiliary. We hope you can come out and celebrate with us. Chautauqua County is beautiful in the winter! Come see the horses and join in the fun!

We are sorry, we do not know if there is a Rally this Year.   We no longer are affiliated with this event as a new group took it over. This is the only contact info we have:
Carol Lorence

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