RANCHO SANTA FE — The Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show and Howlin’ Dog Costume Contest are paying tribute to the memory of Lisa Blaufuss on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28. Blaufuss succumbed to her seven-year battle with breast cancer in March. She was the owner of CrackerJack Productions and founder of the Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show and the Howl’in Dog Costume Contest — both events take place every fall at the Del Mar Horse Park. The dog costume contest happens over the weekend of the horse show.
The event will also serve as a fundraiser. A portion of the proceeds raised will go to Blaufuss’ daughter, Ciera, for her college education savings. A donation will also be made to White Rock Horse Rescue in Yucca, where Blaufuss’ horse, Khaos, is now retired.
This year, Blaufuss’ close friend Kim Stordahl, a highly accomplished dressage rider and trainer, stepped in as the Spooktacular show manager. Friends of Lisa board member and Howlin’ Dog Costume Contest organizer Meredith Grimm, a Rancho Santa Fe resident, said that this is the Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show’s sixth year.
“Kim is honoring and carrying on Lisa’s legacy by producing the show this year,” Grimm said. “The dressage community is excited to participate and honor their dear friend, Lisa, by supporting her daughter and by keeping Lisa in our memory and hearts during yet another ‘Spooktacular’ horse show event and Howlin’ Dog Costume Contest.”
Grimm, who is an oncology nurse and patient navigator, said she connected with Blaufuss in the horse community. She went on to say Blaufuss was affectionately known to all as Wonder Woman.
“We are honoring Lisa for being a breast cancer champion, horse show event creator, mother and wife, and dear friend,” Grimm said. “She was tenacious and worked tirelessly to create the perfect show experience for the dressage community, often while actively undergoing cancer treatment.” She added, “Lisa never burdened anyone with her daily challenges and remained incredibly positive throughout her cancer journey. Even on her toughest days, she would go out of her way to give of herself to others and make people feel important or special.”
According to Grimm, the triple-rated, two-day dressage show expanded to include a dog costume contest for riders to take a break from the riding competition and dress up their dogs.
Those entering their dogs in the contest do not need to be equestrians — anyone can join in on the fun. Categories for the Howl’in Dog Costume Contest include the scariest costume, funniest costume, cutest costume, and the owner/dog lookalike contest. Additionally, this year they will award the Lisa Blaufuss “Best in Show” prize, which will be the judges’ choice.
It was Grimm and Blaufuss who came up with the dog costume idea a few years back.
“Lisa and I thought a dog costume contest could expand the fun and competition beyond just the horses and riders,” Grimm said. “Lisa loved Halloween and costumes, so we thought why not a dog costume contest, too?”
Grimm said every year the dog costume event grows and expands in popularity even with the non-riding dog community.
Kimberli Weeks, show manager of the Oct. 28 Howlin’ Dog Costume Contest, is the owner and operator of Racepacepups in San Diego. Weeks, an avid marathon runner, will make a beeline to the New York Marathon after the event.
“On the day of the costume contest, we will have a canine demo by David Greene of Performance K9 Training https://www.performancek9training.com/ who has represented the USA on four world teams,” she said. “The nonprofit Thrive Animal Rescue, who is participating in our show this year, will be there in an effort to find forever homes for dogs in need.”
Grimm said the weekend show is generously sponsored by local companies, veterinarians and pet service providers, horse and dog alike. She went on to say how their supporters have enriched the event each year.
“What makes our show so special is the sense of community and collaboration we have developed with Friends of Lisa and the Southern California dressage community,” she said.
The weekend event kicks off on Oct. 27, where riders will take part in the Valor and Milo Costume Musical Freestyle. The next day is the Howlin’ Dog Costume Contest. On Sunday, Oct. 28, participants and spectators are asked to wear “pink” in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink Friends of Lisa hats will also be available for purchase, as another fundraising effort.
“Our mission is to deliver a triple-rated, competitive show and costume contest that provides a weekend of fun,” Grimm said. “It made Lisa happy to see everyone enjoying themselves, and we want to keep that fun spirit moving forward.”