Gettysburg Riding Club History

The following is just a brief history about the Gettysburg Riding Club as gathered from both club documents and from stories told by past club members. Hopefully, the story is accurate.

 The Early Years

The Gettysburg Riding Club was established in 1952 with the following officers: President Leroy Winebrenner, Vice President Dr. Bruce Wolff, Secretary Jane Bigham and Treasurer John Rice.  The Leroy Winebrenner Farm is located on Reynolds Avenue near the Peace Light Memorial and is now owned by the park service.

 Local businessmen in the area started the club after many trail rides together in the mountains near Orrtanna and the Gettysburg Battlefield. They secured a meeting room at the county courthouse.  The meeting room was free, but they paid the janitor $2 for each meeting for his services.  Meetings were held at 9:00 pm.

 Our founding members were active trail riders, and rides were held every Sunday with most of them lasting about two hours.  In February 1953, Ray Hauser from Chambersburg Riding Club invited the members to join them on a three-day trail ride.

First Horse Shows

 The first members were also interested in having horse shows.  In 1953 the Gettysburg Rotary Club became a sponsor for the shows.  Profits would be split 40% to the Rotary and 60% to the GRC.  The Bircher farm was the site of the first show.  Old club records show that the food tent needed to be at least seventy-five feet away from the ring.  Vans and unloading of horses needed to be separate from the regular parking, and a snow fence was used to separate general admission from participants.  Trophies cost $10 each.  Majorettes sold the programs at 25 cents each, and the policeman that helped with parking would be given free food.

Horse shows were also held at the South Mountain Fairgrounds in September.  Shows were also held just for people from Adams County.  Then Club President Mr. Winebrenner and Peggy Long gave junior riding lessons at the Winebrenner farm.  In June 1955, the proceeds from the show were donated to the Hospital Building fund.  This is a tradition that still continues.  The entertainment for the show break was a roping contest.  The club bought a calf and whoever roped it, kept it.

Early Members

Bernie Miller, a long-time sheriff in Adams County, joined the club in 1955.  He was a member until his death in 1999.  He always helped with traffic control over the battlefield trail rides.  Conduct on trail rides was also discussed at meetings.  Rules were to be handed out at the beginning of each ride.  Riders needed to behave themselves.  (continued next column)






Early Members (cont.)

 In 1956 the annual show moved to the John Teeter property which is now the location of the Twin Lakes housing development on Rt.  116, the Fairfield Road.  Debbie   Swope (Raffensperger), Leroy Winebrenner’s granddaughter, joined in 1956. In 1958 when Leroy LeVan was club secretary, President Eisenhower was given an honorary membership card. 

 The club experienced significant growth in membership in 1959.  New members included Cleason Richardson, Jean Heltzel and David Jacobs.  Junior members were Jack (our current President) and Ann Bucher, Hannah and Dave LeVan, Sally and Sheryl Jackson, and Sherry Swope .  Dues increased to $5 per adult and $1 for members under 16. Also, MD-PA meeting was  held in Westminster, Maryland in 1959.

The 1960’s

All horse shows were moved to the South Mountain Fairgrounds in the early 60’s.  Shows held at the fairgrounds were members of the Maryland Pennsylvania Circuit and the Carroll County English Horse Show Circuit.  We would build a ring with snow fence and set jumps and have all the Carroll County classes outside and the MD-PA classes in the ring.  We even had a third ring for a lot of the years. Our club hosted the MD-PA Circuit dinner in 1960 and 1963.  The cost per person was $2.50!

 More Current Times

 Through all these years, the club was always looking for land to purchase for their own club grounds.  In the early 1970’s, they acquired ten acres off of the Hunterstown Road which is the location of our current show grounds.  The club persevered through lack of funding and member involvement in the late 70’s and 80’s, and this land was finally turned into a show grounds in 1996.  This was in good time for the club as the South Mountain Fairgrounds tore down their show ring after our 1ast show there in 1994. The 1995 show was held at Magic Rose Farm on Dick Dam Road near New Oxford. 

 The first show of the season to be held at our new show grounds was postponed because of the eleven inches of rain that fell about a week before the show.  July 1996 marked a great accomplish for The Gettysburg Riding Club when our first show was held at the Alice and Kennie Foust Equestrian Park at 102 Hounds Run Road. 


Currently, the club holds about five shows a year at the show grounds, and two of these shows, the Blue and Gray All English Show and the Maryland Pennsylvania Horse Show Circuit, are hosted by our club. Like our founding members, we continue to enjoy trail rides about twice a month from May through November.  And as they say, “the rest is history.”



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