Junior Riding Club Marker Dedicated


Dedication of Jr. Riding Club marker Oct. 10. Pictured are Lana Kofford, Brock Johansen, Cynthia Grant, Joyce Miya, and Kenneth Grant.

By Cynthia Grant

The Junior Riding Club Alumni plaque, mounted on the east wall of the concession stand at the Castle Dale rodeo grounds, commemorates the Blue and Gold Junior Riding Club/Dust Riders and its leaders. The bronze marker was dedicated on Oct. 10 by Brock Johansen, grandson of founder Grace Johansen. Also present at the dedication were Lana Kofford, Joyce Miya, Cynthia Grant, and Kenneth and Michelle Grant.

Cynthia Grant of Orangeville designed and painted the mural, and her son Kenneth power-washed the wall and mounted the marker. Taken from an actual arena photograph, the mural is a sunset silhouetting a young rider atop his horse. Cynthia loves to point out that the boy was a member of the Dust Riders in the 80s.

This summer, on July 29, riding club alums proudly rode their horses in this year’s return of the Emery County Fair parade. Spectators at the rodeo that evening cheered these riders as they reunited for the first time in many years to participate in the fair.

Grace Johansen organized the first Blue and Gold Junior Riding Club in 1951. For 20 years, she trained and supervised youth in this enduring legacy of horsemanship in Castle Dale, Orangeville, and later Ferron.

Stuart Jensen teamed up with Jean Curtis in 1974 to lead the Junior Riding Club, while Lana Kofford became a leader in 1975. “I went to the Blue and Gold Junior Riding Club to sign up my four-year-old son, Will,” Kofford recounted. “I was sitting in the bleachers when Stuart came up and asked if I wanted to help lead the junior riding club. I admired Stuart. He had served many years coming off graveyard shift in the mine and going straight to riding club. He didn’t even have any of his children participating!”

Back then, there was no watering system for the arena. Some days, a rider couldn’t see the one in front of him. So, in 1975, the Blue and Gold Junior Riding Club became the Dust Riders.

Margaret Johansen Ovesen, Grace’s daughter, joined in leading the Dust Riders in 1982 until she moved to Idaho in 1989. She explained, “I began to help Lana and Stuart because five of the riders were mine, and I felt bad that I had put that burden on them, so I helped.”

Because of club leaders Stuart, Lana and Margaret, the 1980s were the highlight of the club’s competitions, winning All-Around a fantastic 11 times. The club took first place in the Days of ’47 Jr. Horse Parade in Salt Lake City in 1985, an extraordinary accomplishment!

The Junior Riding Club was always a family affair as supportive parents hauled horses in the backs of pickups and stock trailers in the “good old days” to today’s luxury trailer campers. Not everyone had horse trailers, so families worked together to get all the members and their horses to parades. This has been no small task, with summer practices in Castle Dale and travel to numerous meets and parade competitions throughout Utah.

Over the years, other leaders of the Club included Rohmer Curtis, Sunny Nielsen, David Fielder, Kellie LaFrentz, Kolleen Kofford, Jon and Cindy Judd, Bob Toomer, Joe Kuefler, Rick Benson, Rodney Cox, Jed and Becky Allred, and McKinlee Duncan.

Just in time for the fair, Emery Telcom published and funded “Blue and Gold Junior Riding Club/Dust Riders,” a history of the first 50 years of the club. Joyce Miya wrote and compiled this volume to preserve and share an enduring part of Emery County’s legacy of horsemanship. It is filled with personal and family histories along with treasured photos. The plaque was purchased with proceeds from the book sales. To buy a book, contact Joyce Miya at (801) 558-2219.

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