Illinois Boots and Saddle Club
The Illinois Boots & Saddle Club, Inc. was started in Dusty Rhodes' backyard, in Rosewood Heights in August of 1960, by a group of trail riders. The first letter of invitation was sent out by Arnold Lohr (now deceased) in July, asking to join us for a meeting to see if we could get enough people with horses to create a saddle club. The first meeting had 18 people in attendance. We decided to send out more flyers, and have another meeting in two weeks. At the next meeting, we had 37 people. We decided to elect officers and apply for a State Charter to register the club. Our first President was Arnold Lohr. Vice President was Jim Apple. Secretary was Helen Lohr. Treasurer was, and still is, Mary Jo Wade. In October of 1960, we closed the Charter with around 85 members. Per our Charter, we had to elect a Board of Directors and make a set of By-Laws. We scheduled regular meetings for once a month. At these meetings, we planned and scheduled trail rides and special events for the members. We had spaghetti dinners and chili suppers to raise money for these special events. Our membership dues for the Club were $4.00 a year. In the fall of 1960, we decided to put on a horse show for the members, with the public invited. Being trail riders, we knew little about putting on horse shows. We made lots of mistakes, but we soon gathered members who had experience showing horses and learned a lot about putting together a horse show. From there we grew into a membership of around 200. After having our first 4 horse shows at member farms, we decided we wanted our own place to have shows and trail rides. We went to an auction and bought our existing grounds on Harris Lane in Alton. We have 43.3 acres. Over the years we have built our arena and clubhouse. During the 1970's we built a race track and bought starting gates to have Quarter horse races. During the '70s and '80s, we also had rodeos that were open to the public. We had an equine drill team that performed at County Fairs and in parades. Our membership changes from year to year, but we still retain around 200 members. Our club is family orientated, with our Motto being "Horsemanship, Sportsmanship, and Fellowship". We do not allow alcoholic beverages on the Club Grounds and maintain a very well-organized club. We have 12 to 15 horse shows a year, which are all open to the public. We have 2 to 3 scheduled trail rides per month. Trail rides are held primarily at State Parks in Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. We have a Christmas Party and Awards dinner for our members and their families at Christmas. The Club's business affairs are handled by our Officers and Board members, which are elected each year in November.