There will be some horsing around at the Emo Fairgrounds this weekend as the Borderland Quarter Horse Association will hold its annual show this Friday through Sunday.
Action will begin early, commencing at 9 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday and kicking off at 8 a.m. on Sunday, with days tending to wrap up around 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
The event boasts several different divisions that fall into two different categories, one where the rider is judged, and one where the horse is judged.
“It’s a test of either the rider’s ability to showcase their horse or . . . how well they’re trained, and the better trained ones are probably going to get higher points,” said Maureen Hanson, the association’s vice-president, who added that 60 horses from across the region, as well as Manitoba and Minnesota, will attend.
Divisions include several English and Western pleasure riding classes as well as non-riding halter and showmanship divisions.
“In showmanship, it’s the person who’s being judged, not the horse,” explained Hanson.
“You have a set pattern that you have to put your horse through, and it’s really on the handler’s ability moreso than the horse’s ability, whereas in halter it’s all about the horse and conformation and in the judge’s eye, which horse is the best reflection of its breed.”
Meanwhile, in riding classes, the focus is generally on the rider, where they guide their horse through a pattern that is posted by a judge right before the show.
“In the equitation classes, it’s the rider who’s being judged again, how they can handle their horse through a set pattern,” noted Hanson.
“They don’t know the pattern ahead of time. What happens is the judge arrives and he posts the pattern, so you don’t get a lot of time to practice.
“You just have to look at the pattern when the judge posts it, and then you have to be able to do that pattern with your horse,” she concluded.
There can be several aspects to consider in one of those patterns, from different speeds to starting out in a certain position.
“For instance, in a horsemanship class, you have to do the different gaits, like a walk, trot, lope [faster than a trot but slower than a gallop],” explained Hanson.
“For instance, in a lope pattern, if you’re asked to start in a left lead [leading with the left leg], you have to make sure that your horse starts out in that direction, or you’re penalized.
“You may have to do a lope or trot over rails that are lying on the ground, and if your horse can do them without touching any of them, you get higher points. If your horse touches any of them, you get points deducted,” she continued.
“You’re usually asked to do a backup of some kind, or you have to turn one direction or the other, so it all depends on what pattern the judge decides.”
The above patterns reflect an event where the horse is judged rather than the rider, where the horse is put through tests of its training.
Riders are judged in events where they have to make decisions on the fly, according to Hanson.
“In an equitation class, you have to start out at a walk, and at a different point, you have to start a different gait, like maybe a trot or a lope,” she explained.
“It’s the rider’s ability to judge ‘Am I at that point?’, ‘Do I start now?’”
“There are usually pylons set up in the ring and when you reach that pylon, you have to start that next element.
“It’s how well you can judge your horse to do that element at that certain point,” she concluded.
While most divisions are only open to quarter horses, there is also a beginner division open to any breed. Riders in that division must be 18 and under.
“It’s more for the beginners who are looking to possibly get into showing,” explained Hanson. “It’s just to give them a taste of what it’s like to go in a judged class, but not quite as much pressure as if they were in a regular class.”
Lastly, there will be a charity class to raise funds for Tamarack House in Thunder Bay, which is a facility for cancer patients.
“[It’s] for the non-competitor, anyone who is not riding in any other riding event,” explained Hanson. “It seems like the ones who are going to compete are the family members of the people who normally would be showing, so it might be the mom of a daughter that’s showing.
“They’re not necessarily riding in any other class, but it’s kind of a fun event. The sole purpose in it is to try to raise as many funds as we can for Tamarack House in Thunder Bay,” she wrapped up.