Don’t know your Egg-and-Spoon from your Keyhole, or your Road Hack from your Show Hack? You can watch and learn this weekend as more than 50 horse-rider combinations compete in the Yukon Horse and Rider Association’s Season Finale.
The 3-day event, held on the YHRA Grounds in Whistle Bend, will showcase more than 130 classes ranging from dressage to gymkhana (races and games) to jumping.
The YHRA is a Whitehorse-based society dedicated to the sport of horseback riding in the Yukon. Its goal is to encourage good horsemanship and help promote interest in horses and riding.
There are more than 100 members from communities across the territory.
Anne Lewis, 26, dates her own love of horses back to Grade 8, when her friend Erin Wood, YHRA’s current president, encouraged her to join the 4-H Club. A year later the determined teen had saved enough to buy her first horse, Mila.
After some time away at university, including a stint at St. Andrews, Scotland, where she rode “funny little Scottish ponies,” Lewis returned to Whitehorse. She soon purchased Benny, a National Show Horse whose affectionate ways remind her of a puppy dog.
“You don’t need to own a horse to be part of the association,” she says in her role as says events committee chair.
“Joining the YHRA is a great way to meet other enthusiasts, whether you’re looking to buy or lease a horse, take some lessons or would simply like to know more about the sport.”
Wood and Lewis are part of a young, new executive who are shaking up the 32-year-old association. To that end, the YHRA has hosted a successful short season this summer, featuring two warm-up events and culminating in this weekend’s Whitehorse 2011 Horse Show: Season Finale.
In June, their dressage show preparatory clinic provided instruction for riders of all ages and included an all-adult show, complete with constructive feedback from judge Christine Collins of Edmonton.
Dressage is a demanding discipline that partners gymnastic ability with natural athleticism to demonstrate poise and precision.
The English and Jumping Schooling Show earlier this month was a thrill for competitors and spectators alike. Highlights included a great turnout of promising young jumpers in the 13-15 age group. Once again there was an opportunity for feedback from a judge outside the territory, this time Courtney Anderson of Calgary.
A third warm-up event, the Western and Reining Schooling Show and Clinic, was cancelled due to lack of entrants. Lewis is upbeat about that outcome.
“Interest in the various disciplines is cyclical, and right now English and Jumping is hot,” she says.
The association also knows it takes time to grow an event, and plans to host a similar season for at least two more years, increasing outreach to riding associations in Northern BC and Northern Alberta.
This weekend’s finale will draw horses and riders from Yukon, British Columbia and the United States. Riders didn’t need to compete in the lead-in events to participate in the finale, but points awarded in those events go toward naming some grand champions this weekend. Ruth Fowler from Cochrane, Alberta is the judge for the entire event.
Ribbons for the top five in each class will be awarded as well, but says Lewis, “The most important thing is to have some fun.”
English and Jumping may be hot, and the cover image for this week’s issue shows how dramatic it can be to watch. But Lewis says the riders to look out for this weekend are the Northern Tempo Equestrian Centre Young Riders.
This talented Whitehorse team performs drill, a series of patterned exercises similar to the RCMP’s famous Musical Ride (but without the red jackets).
So for those eager to see equine athleticism, this weekend is not to be missed.
More information can be found at www.yhra.ca