LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Horsemen's Association's first equestrian event of the spring season combined horsemanship with gamesmanship.
The group held its Sixth Annual Poker Run on Sunday. Around 40 riders played a unique version of poker, starting out at Lewisboro Town Park and collecting playing cards at five volunteer-manned checkpoints staggered along a 5 mile loop through Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
Roger Gair, former horse salesman and Lakeland School District janitor and groundskeeper for 33 years, said the game is friendly and noncompetitive.
“It’s totally luck. It’s just a fun thing to take your horse out and do something different," Gair said.
The teams that ended up with the best poker hands won gift certificates to The Horse Connection supply shop in Bedford. To increase their odds, riders could buy wild cards for an extra $10 before the ride. The event concluded with an afternoon barbecue in the park’s pavilion.
Roger and his wife Lilly of Putnam Valley brought along Hickory the mule, 14, and Rascal, a Morgan horse, 13, as their mounts. The couple has a private farm where they have horses for hunting paces, trail riding and cart driving.
Callie Bauer, president of the Lewisboro Horsemen's Association and owner of Echo Farm in South Salem, said the poker run trail allows riders to ride at a leisurely pace across a varied terrain of hills and streams. The course tests riders’ skills, she said.
Bauer said that the 25 mile trail system is made possible by supporting landowners who allow riders to pass through their property and protected land. The trail system is marked off with red Lewisboro Horsemen's Association markings.
The poker run, Bauer said, is "a good first event to get your horse out in the spring."
Barbara Kovach, who owns a horse farm in Purdys, was there to transport horses for two teams of two. She said the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation has “lots of variety and open spaces" and is well-maintained.
"It’s such a huge expanse," she said. "You can come and stay all day."
Kovach also recently provided horses for Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, who bought a house in Bedford last month. The celebrity couple took a ride with Martha Stewart through the reservation to the Bedford Post Inn, Kovach said. Reynolds rode a horse named Dr. Phil.