Fifty years ago, a group of 42 people who loved the camaraderie of camping and riding horses together decided to form a saddle club.
On Sunday, the three surviving members of the Spurs and Wheels Saddle Club were recognized for their ongoing efforts to keep the club alive and well since 1966.
That recognition for John Wesley Spurgeon and Marvin Hash, both of Freetown, and Jim Browning of Seymour came shortly after the start of the club’s annual fun show conducted in the horse arena at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Brownstown. The show, open to all, is on the night before the fair each year.
Spurgeon, who continued to ride horses until six or seven years ago, said the club came about because a lot of people from the area with horses rode in parades and other events during the state’s sesquicentennial in 1966. Brownstown and Jackson County also celebrated their 150th birthdays that year and had parades and other events for those who like to ride.
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“We just decided to start a saddle club,” he said.
Browning said there had been a saddle club in the area back in the 1940s, but it folded.
“… and I had missed that,” he said. “I wasn’t old enough to drive to be able to get there. I talked about it (forming a club) for many years with Marvin (Hash). We went back and forth.”
In 1966, it seemed everyone had a pony or a horse, he said.
“So Marvin said, ‘Now’s the time,’” Browning said.
Hash and Browning along with Bob Bowling, who has since passed away, decided to start a saddle club.
The three decided to conduct a meeting at the County Seat Conservation Club on North State Road 135, and before that meeting was over, it was decided to form a club, Browning said.
“I think there were 42 memberships paid,” he said.
Browning said the club membership has turned over two or three times since those early days.
In 1968, the club leased ground on State Road 250 near the Jackson-Washington State Forest from Charles Hehman at a cost of $150 per year. The 5-acre site, about three miles east of Brownstown, was cleared by members to make room for parking and a show arena.
The last horse show occurred there sometime in the early 1990s after the lease ran out.
Club members still help out at the Jackson County Fair horse show and have a fall and spring show each year.
They also meet once a month to conduct business and gather for campouts and rides, Browning said.
There’s one thing club members do very well.
“We eat a lot,” he said. “We eat real good. It’s mostly just a fellowship for trail riders.”
Hash, the club’s first president, is the only original member to still be riding.
“I ride every week,” the 79-year-old said. “As long as I’m breathing air on this earth, I’ll have horses.”
He said he became the first president because no one else wanted the job.
Current club president John Terrell of Seymour said the club still has about 40 members.
Most were on hand for the show and to honor the three founding members with a parade that included 39 riderless horses for the 39 original members not present.
The fun show is just a way to get everyone ready for the fair horse show, Terrell said.
He said the club raises money through a variety of fundraisers, including the fun show. The money helps fund a variety of community service projects, including the annual Brownstown Christmas Cheer program and the club’s monthly Trail Buddy program that helps families in need of clothing, toys and other items.
The club also sells Rada cutlery and other products to raise money.
The club meets on the second Saturday of each month at different locations. Membership is not limited to people living in Jackson County or even southern Indiana, Terrell said.
“We have members from northern Indiana,” he said.
Terrell became a member six years ago when he and his wife, Leah Terrell, were asked to attend a meeting.
The club tries to have spring and fall rides each year and campouts more often. Each meeting includes a cookout and good fellowship and fun, he said.
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What: Spurs and Wheels Saddle Club
First officers: Marvin Hash, president; Jim Browning, vice president; Janet Bedwell, secretary; Bob Nuss, treasurer