Popular Equestrian Activities

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Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre is home to several equestrian organizations, providing participants and spectators regular opportunities to be involved in popular equestrian activities. Descriptions for several types of popular equestrian shows and competitions that have taken place at Horseshoe Park is provided below.

Horse Shows

Different horse breeds and equestrian disciplines hold competitions worldwide, from local to the international levels. Most horse shows run from one to three days and consist of a series of different performances, or classes, in which a group of horses with similar training or characteristics compete against one another for awards or prize money. Some shows are restricted to a particular breed, others are "open" or "all-breed" horse shows offering either classes open to all breeds or breed-specific classes for similar breeds.

Gymkhana

Gymkhana is a term used to describe an equestrian event consisting of speed pattern racing and timed horseback games, often emphasizing children's participation, at which riders and horses display a range of skills and aptitudes. This type of competition is also called an O-Mok-See (also O Mok See or Omoksee) competition, a term derived from a Native American phrase meaning "games on horseback." Gymkhana classes include timed speed events such as barrel racing, keyhole race, keg race or down-and-back, flag race and pole bending. All of these events are designed to display precise, controlled actions and tight teamwork between horse and rider at speed.

Barrel Racing & Pole Bending

Barrel racing and pole bending are timed speed and agility events that combine the horse's athletic ability and the horsemanship skills of the rider to safely and successfully maneuver through a set pattern in the fastest time possible. The timer begins when horse and rider cross the start line and ends when the pattern has been successfully executed and horse and rider cross the finish line. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. In pole bending, horse and rider run the length of a line of six upright poles, turn sharply and weave through the poles, turn again and weave back, then return to the start.

Cutting

Cutting is a Western-style equestrian sport where horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time. The sport originated from cattle ranches, where it was the cutting horse's job to separate cattle from the herd for sorting. A cutting horse is an athletic and willing animal that is trained to instinctively keep a cow from returning to the herd. A contestant has two-and-a-half minutes to show the horse; typically three cows are cut during a run, although working only two cows is acceptable. A judge awards points to the cutter based on a scale that ranges from 60 to 80, with 70 being considered average.

Ranch Sorting

Ranch Sorting is a Western-style equestrian sport that evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring or transport. This team sport sets horseback riders against the clock, as they work together to drive cattle from one pen to another in the correct order. Teamwork is key, with the riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back.

Reining

Reining is a Western-style competition where the riders guide horses through a precise maneuver of circles, spins and stops. The horse is judged on its ability to perform the set pattern of movements, requiring horses to be responsive and in tune with their riders, whose aids should not be easily seen. The horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance. A horse that pins his ears, conveying a threat to his rider, refuses to go forward, runs sideways, bounces his rear, wrings his tail in irritation or displays an overall poor attitude is not being guided willingly, and is judged accordingly.

Roping

Roping includes a number of timed events that are based on the real-life tasks of a working cowboy, who often had to capture calves and adult cattle for branding, medical treatment and other purposes. A lasso or lariat is thrown over the head of a calf or the horns of adult cattle, and the animal is secured in a fashion dictated by its size and age.

Tie-Down Roping

In tie-down or calf roping, once the calf is roped around the neck by a lariat, the horse stops and sets back on the rope, while the cowboy dismounts, runs to the calf, throws it to the ground and ties three feet together. The job of the horse is to hold the calf steady on the rope. If the horse throws the calf, the cowboy loses time waiting for the calf to get back to its feet so that the cowboy can do the work.

Breakaway Roping

Breakaway roping is an easier form of calf roping where a very short lariat is used, tied lightly to the saddle horn with string and a flag. When the calf is roped, the horse stops, allowing the calf to run on, flagging the end of time when the string and flag breaks from the saddle.

Team Roping

Team roping features a full-grown steer and two mounted riders. The first roper is referred to as the "header," the person who ropes the front of the steer, the second is the "heeler," who ropes the steer by its hind feet, with a five second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught. Team roping, also called "heading and heeling," is the only rodeo event where men and women riders may compete together.

Rough Stock Competition

Bronc Riding

Bronc riding is a rodeo event that involves a rodeo participant riding on a horse that attempts to throw or buck off the rider. Originally based on the necessary horse breaking skills of a working cowboy, the event is now a highly stylized competition that uses horses that often are specially bred for strength, agility and bucking ability. There are two divisions of bronc riding: bareback bronc riding, where the rider is only allowed to hang onto a bucking horse with a surcingle (a girth for a horse which goes around the body); and saddle bronc riding, where the rider is allowed a specialized western saddle and a heavy lead rope to hold on to that is attached to a halter on the horse.

Bull Riding

Bull riding refers to rodeo sports that involve a rider attempting to stay mounted on a large bull while the animal attempts to buck the rider off. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope, and, typically, the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. A score is awarded, with both the rider and the bull receiving points based on several key aspects of the ride, including the control and rhythm of the rider and the athleticism of the bull.

Sources: Wikipedia - 2011