The last Ram Tap Horse Trials in Fresno, Calif., will take place on Nov. 16-18. This marks the 55th year that the event has run, making it the second oldest horse trial in the country. Started in 1957 by Pat and Marion Humphreys, Ram Tap has hosted eventers from beginner novice through advanced over the years. In 2007, after a nine-year absence, an advanced division was offered, but the event currently runs four horse trials per year from beginner novice through preliminary.
Organizer Bill Burton began his association with Ram Tap in 1957 at the age of 11 as a stable boy for the show. “[Pat and Marion] had no kids of their own, so they just kind of adopted me. They were my second family,” he said. By 1978, after serving in Vietnam, he became co-organizer, and in 1985, he took over duties full time. His wife Margaret has also been a part of the team serving as secretary.
The 135-acre competition site is leased from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. When they decided to take 10 crucial acres from the horse trials site to build a new high-speed rail through California, Burton decided it was time to end the event. “They’re taking some more property from me, and it’s just going to be hard to move everything and re-set up, so I decided to go ahead and let it go after 55 years. It’s not an easy decision,” he said.
The 10 acres were part of the stabling area, and Burton estimates it would cost $100,000 for new pads for the barns and fencing the property.
He hopes to remain involved in eventing in the future as a course designer and organizer. “About the only memory I have is how great the sport has been to me. Not too many people can say they’ve had 55 years of pleasure,” he said. “I’m not retiring, Ram Tap’s retiring.”
A party will be held in conjunction with the November event. More details can be found on Ram Tap’s website.