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Group 'horses around' monthly
Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages gathered Saturday at the Whispering Horse Stables to compete in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying and breakaway calf roping.
A light sprinkle the night before had left the earth a little soft, but the clouds had gone away and were replaced by a beautiful blue sky, which hung quietly over the little dirt arena.
The monthly competition is put on by the Yuma Progressive Barrel Racers Association, a local group of equestrians who gather together to sharpen their horse skills.
The group has 55 members who range in skill from beginner to expert.
"We meet each month and we have a progressive system where anyone can be a member," said Joy Sexton, arena director.
"You can run as a member or a non-member, and you come and qualify. Depending on your time, that puts you in a certain category, and then you compete within that time area until you promote up. It has different degrees."
Sexton said the group is for all ages.
"Our goal is to have a good time and promote good sportsmanship. We also want to give everybody the chance to develop a hobby and have some fun, friendly competition."
Sexton explained what barrel racing is.
"It is a clover leaf pattern, with three barrels," she said. "It displays the horse's ability to change leads at speed. The rider needs to do it as cleanly and as fast as possible, and knock no barrels down."
Sexton said the competitions are all about agility.
"The horse and the rider have to work together. They are definitely a team. This whole thing is set up for the riders to build up their horses from the start. If it takes them a minute to complete (each category) at first, that's fine."
According to Lisa Carlson, secretary for the YPBRA board of directors, the monthly competitions allow the group's members to break in their horses.
"There are some horses that are pretty well trained, or you can have a brand new horse and come and start working it with all of these competitions," she said.
Even kids not old enough to go to elementary school donned their boots and Wrangler jeans to participate in the day's events during the goat ribbon contest.
"It is for kids 6 and under and it is just a hoot," Sexton said. "They run across the line and get a ribbon off of the goat's tail and run back. We've had one as little as 2 doing that."
Sexton said the YPBRA, which has been around for about 25 years, is a nonprofit organization that is funded through local sponsors.
"Don Engler owns Whispering Horse Stables and he lets us use this facility for free, which is awesome. We really appreciate our sponsors, especially with all the help they give us. We keep our expenses are as low as possible, and we try to spend all the money on awards at the end of the year. We always give buckles for first place in each category, and last year we gave out awards for all places so everybody got something. Nobody was left out."
If you would like to watch the action, the next competitions will be held at the same location, 3899 S Avenue 3E on March 20, April 17 and May 2.
For more information call 257-6676 or 314-4444.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.