The first Western Horse Contest was held at the Bourbon Fairgrounds on October 26, 1947. Prize trophies were donated by individuals and local businesses.
The Silver $ Saddle Club was organized November 8 of the same year. Around 25 families paid the two dollar annual dues. Silver dollars and ribbons were awarded to the top three places in show events, hence the name of the newly formed club. The first officers were President Durward ‘Dick’ Fretz, vice President Dale McCollough, and Secretary-Treasurer Milton Crooke.
In the beginning the club hosted two contest shows per year for members only. As time progressed other clubs were invited to compete.
For nearly 40 years the recreational family-oriented club provided hours of organized activities for local youth. Youth and open shows were held May through October. The activities were supported by entry fees, gate admissions, donations, and sponsors. Fund-raisers included raffling off a horse, pony ride rings at the fair and hosting the Arabian Horse Show in Bourbon at the Bourbon Fairgrounds
Members put in many hours maintaining grounds and equipment and organizing events.
The shows were originally held at the Bourbon Fairgrounds until the land was sold to the school. Rest Time Park on Beech Road became the new home of Silver $ Saddle Club when the 17th Annual show was held there. As late as 1983 Rest Time Park was the site used by the club.
Over the decades the members put on shows at the Elkhart Co. Fairgrounds for the Boy Scout Clubs of Elkhart, LaGrange, and Kosciusko counties. Gold, silver, and bronze horseshoes were awarded for event placings. The local club received a trophy and case.
Generously, Ecker Trucking, Chet Hall, Hank Hall, and Allen Stevenson hauled the horses of members without trailers to their club destinations.
Marie Summy constructed the club flag out of blue material appointed with white letters and a horse emblem.
In the 1951 Argos Centennial, members of the Silver $ Saddle Club portrayed early settlers in the third scene of a community pageant.
The club also participated in Centennial celebrations for Bourbon (1953) and Walkerton (1956). The members won "Best Club Presentation" at Walkerton portraying Indians and settlers. They also took home an award for "Best Old-Timer on Horseback".
The Saddle Club was a part of the Grand Opening Parade for the Indiana Toll Road in 1956 portraying Indians and early settlers. The cold weather of the day was blamed when several members fell ill.
The troop rode in the Marshall County Labor Day Parades and the Blueberry Festival Parades in Plymouth.
The annual parades at the Bremen Firemen’s Festival, the Etna Green 4th of July, as well as LaPaz, and Warsaw, kept the riders and their mounts on the road.
Milton Crooke directed the children’s pony drill and square-dancing on horseback. He served as the MC for the troop’s pageant "Fiesta at Bloody Gulch" which was written and directed by Helen Johnson. Mrs. Johnson also assisted with costuming and make-up to add authenticity to the production. The 100 character cast performed at the 1960 Bourbon Fair.
Adding to the fun of riding contests, pageants and parades, the members were treated to organized trail rides with games, bon fires and cooking wieners over the fire. One such ride was held on the Olen Roahrig farm near Inwood in October 1959. Mr. and Mrs. Chet Hall gave the small children wagon rides. Mrs. Lee Listenfelt organized a morning treasure hunt.
The members and their horses traveled to Frances Slocum State Recreation Area near the Mississinewa Dam to ride trails and camp in the rough.
In the early years of the club, several members built chariots and then took part in shows and fairs. Mark Wood built the first one in the Dillingham shop. Other chariot drivers were Hank Hall and Dick Fretz. This became known as ‘flaming’.
The Silver $ Saddle Club provided decades of family fun.