“The Oregon High Desert Classics raises money to support at-risk youth. We have found the horse show community to be very generous in their compassion for the challenges our youth have to overcome. This show has contributed more than $2.6 million towards helping kids over the past ten years. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you!”
~ Stephanie Alvstad, CEO and President, J Bar J Youth Services
Established in 1989, the Oregon High Desert Classics (OHDC) is a premier hunter/jumper competition located on a beautiful 40 acre ranch in Central Oregon. We offer six grass competition rings with an amazing backdrop of the snow covered Cascade Mountains. The Classics are held the last two weeks of July every year.
The Oregon High Desert Classics serve as the primary annual fundraiser for J Bar J Youth Services, a nonprofit organization that facilitates positive change for youth. J Bar J hosts the show on its property housing The Ranch, a residential program and school for at-risk boys. Proceeds from these events support at-risk youth working with one of J Bar J’s six programs. The investment in “human capital” has concrete results as we see kids turn their lives around, becoming better community members, better partners, and eventually better parents. The board, staff, and youth at J Bar J Youth Services are grateful for the opportunities afforded by the OHDC. A former resident of our homeless teen shelter summed up his experience with this; “The LOFT (homeless shelter program) has helped me with many things. They helped me get back in school. They help me with my medical and dental needs. They make sure I am eating well. Most of all, the staff at the LOFT makes me feel like there is someone who cares”.
Another youth who graduated from the Ranch had this to say; “J Bar J influenced me to become not only a productive member of society, but someone who I don’t mind looking at in the mirror in the morning. I learned how to take accountability for my actions and create a life for myself that I’m proud of.”
The horse show also provides a venue for youth in our programs to work. Boys from the Ranch interview for positions as groundskeepers and kitchen staff for the show. The money they earn is often put towards any restitution they need to pay. Girls from the Academy at Sisters serve as wait staff for multiple events under the Patrons Tent during the two weeks of the show. Community service is a strong value in all of our programs and the horse show is a perfect opportunity for the kids to help out.
Originally called the High Desert Horse Faire in 1989, this event was transferred to J Bar J Youth Services in 1992 and renamed the Michelob Classics. J Bar J owns a forty acre cattle ranch east of Bend and operates a rehabilitation program for boys that have been in trouble with the law. The boys provided the labor needed to transform the property into a suitable show facility. To establish the grass rings, the fields were laser leveled, going down about six feet to put in rock and gravel. This provided a solid base for the grass rings. The boys continue to work the show every year, which gives them the opportunity to earn money to pay restitution.
Dianne Johnson was hired as the show manager in 1997 and the show was renamed the Oregon High Desert Classics, expanding from one to two weeks-Classic I and Classic II. No stranger to the world of horse shows, Dianne has over forty years of experience as a trainer before “retiring” and taking up a second career managing shows. In addition to the Classics, Dianne manages several other shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Evergreen Classic in Washington. She served as steward at shows on the California A-circuit and has experience as a board member on USEF and the USHJA Boards. As the previous owner of Sterling Stables, Dianne is an experienced rider winning the Grand Prix of Calgary twelve consecutive times. Dianne transformed the Oregon High Desert Classics into a premiere event that attracts the best riders from across the US and Canada. Dianne ran the shows through 2019.