Come rain or shine, a cowboy or cowgirl has to be ready to work the range.
So do their horses.
Undaunted by gentle showers and, eventually, a steady downpour, each horse and rider in the first Ranch Horse Competition worked through all classes.
The competition was held at the Moffat County Fairgrounds on Saturday during Grand Olde West Days.
There were five classes in the competition. The event started off with the Halter Class, followed by the Riding Class, Cut and Pen, Reining, Working Cow and Versatility (trail). Each class was formulated to showcase some aspect of the everyday work of a ranch horse and rider.
In the Halter Class, the owner leads the horse around in a circle so the judge can see the horse's conformation. For this event, the horses were divided into junior horses, 5 years and under, and senior horses, 6 years and older.
In the Junior Halter Class, Zan Bar Freckles, owned by Peter Kurtz of Steamboat Springs, took first place. Tango, owned by Donna Deatherage, of Craig, took second. Roxy, owned by Bernie Rose, took third. In the Senior Halter Class, Breeze, owned by Barbara Barker, took first; Freckalena Chick, owned by Kurtz, took second.
The Riding Class showcases how smooth and pleasant the horse is to ride.
Junior Riding Class results: first place, Tango, ridden by Deatherage; second, Zan Bar Freckles, ridden by Kurtz; third, Roxy, ridden by Rose.
Sr. Riding Class: first, Freckalena Chick, ridden by Kurtz; second, Breeze, ridden by Barker.
The Cut and Pen Class tested the horse's and the rider's ability to handle and drive cattle. A cow was released into the arena. The horse and rider had to maneuver the cow into a pen within a limited amount of time. First, Kurtz, riding Zan Bar Freckles; second, Kurtz, riding Freckalena Chick; third, Barker, riding Breeze; fourth, Deatherage, riding Tango; fifth, Rose, riding Roxy.
The Reining and Working Cow Classes tested the horse's ability to be put through a specific set of maneuvers including lead changes, stops and turns (dry work), as well as the horse and rider's ability to rate and control a cow. The dry work required the rider to remember and put the horse through an elaborate pattern. First went to Kurtz, riding Zan Bar Freckles; second, Kurtz, riding Freckalena Chick, third, Barker riding Breeze; fourth, Rose, riding Roxy; fifth, Deatherage, on Tango.
In the Versatility Class, the horse and rider were put through an obstacle course and performed tasks similar to what might be encountered on any given work day. The course began by riding up to a gate. The rider had to open the gate, walk the horse through and close the gate, all while on horseback. Horse and rider had to maneuver through brush and refuse. The horses walked carefully through a log-strewn path. A slicker had to be retrieved from and returned to a tree. There was even a mail box to be checked from horseback. At the end of the trail, the rider had to dismount and check out their horse's hooves.
All of this was done in drizzling rain. First, Freckalena Chick, ridden by Kurtz; second, Zan Bar Freckles ridden by Kurtz; third, Breeze ridden by Barker; fourth, Tango ridden by Donna Deatherage, fifth, Roxy ridden by Bernie Rose.
The junior high points winner was Zan Bar Freckles. Senior high points winner was Freckalena Chick. Both are owned and ridden by Kurtz.
The event organizer said he was pleased with how well this first year event went and hopes it will grow over time. A big thanks goes out to all the participants and volunteers who helped make the Ranch Horse Competition happen.
The event was judged by Marvin and Sue Kapushion of Kapushion Training in Whitewater. Marv and Sue compete and train for a variety of events such as heading, heeling, calf-roping, hunter under saddle, Western pleasure, working cowhorse, reining, over fence classes and trail ,just to name a few. They have qualified and competed at the world and national level in all these events.
Sue is also an ApHC, APHA and NSBA accredited judge for 14 years. She has judged the Appaloosa Nationals three times, the Appaloosa World Championships, along with the Australian Nationals and the German Nationals.