The Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show and Howl’in Dog Costume Contest returns to the Del Mar Horsepark on Oct. 7-8, considered by many to be the “funnest dressage show of the year.”
Lisa Blaufuss of Crackerjack Productions created Spooktacular in 2013 as a competitive, triple-rated dressage show that focused on fun and also gave back to breast cancer nonprofits during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“I love that Spooktacular has allowed me to be very creative and think outside of the box for a dressage show. As the show theme evolved the interest level increased and more riders began to engage,” Blaufuss said. “The show delivers a weekend packed with out-of-the-ordinary activities and extreme fun. Seeing everyone enjoying themselves makes me very happy.”
The show features the Costume Musical Freestyle as well as the Spooktacular Relay in which teams of four compete. In Friday’s relay, sponsored by Barbara Biernat of Horse and Rider Boutique, one leg of the relay will be riding horses bareback. Kimberly Hart of Sundland Ranch in Olivenhain is loaning two of her beautiful Icelandic ponies for the event.
“We thought it would be fun to introduce this breed to the dressage community and let them experience their amazing gaits,” Blaufuss said.
The Howl’in Dog Costume Contest will be held on Sunday, Oct. 8 at 12:30 p.m. Prizes are awarded to the best matched pair (pet and human), most scariest, the funniest, most creative and one overall best of contest winner. The contest is sponsored by Mary’s Tack and Feed.
For the Spooktacular weekend, show participants really get into their costumes and decorate their tents for prizes.
As always, the proceeds from Spooktacular go toward a breast cancer nonprofit and for the last several years, Breast Cancer Angels has been the beneficiary.
Blaufuss was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2010 and went into remission in 2012 but it unfortunately returned in 2015 as stage 4.
Blaufuss said when she was diagnosed with this recurrence, the community really stepped up to help her and her family through fundraisers, clinics and silent auctions.
“I have such immense gratitude to everyone who helped lift me up during this time. So now, I want to pay it forward,” Blaufuss said. “I choose nonprofits that are personally making a difference in patients’ lives. These tend to be smaller more intimate organizations that know the names of their clients and are in tune with their needs.”
Blaufuss said Breast Cancer Angels provides direct financial and emotional assistance for individuals with everyday life expenses as they are going through breast cancer treatment.
“I don’t think people realize that treatment isn’t the only financial obstacle when dealing with a chronic disease,” Blaufuss said. “The ability to cover everyday living expenses can suddenly disappear when paying for treatments. It’s very common and yet often undiscussed.”
As Blaufuss continues to fight her recurrence of cancer, with a “heavy heart” she has decided this year’s Spooktacular will be the last year she does the show.
“It’s become apparent that I have to completely focus on healing. And while I truly love putting on fun shows for you, for our wonderful community, the level of effort and stress associated with producing these events works against me,” Blaufuss wrote in a Facebook message. “This has been a very hard decision to make. But I don’t want this to be a sad thing. Let’s come together one more time and have the best weekend ever.”
The responses to her decision have been supportive and complimentary of Spooktaculars past — calling it “the best show of the year” and their “best memories in dressage.”
“You have created this show that everyone looks forward to,” wrote Lisa Bradley. “We all love you so much and have much gratitude for all you have done.”
Blaufuss said she has many great memories of her years doing “Spook” but her favorite time is Saturday morning, costume day, when everyone shows up at 7 a.m. dressed in their Halloween finest.
“It’s hilarious what some people show up in,” Blaufuss said. “There’s laughter all around. That’s how I know it’s going to be a great day.”