Craig Gymkhana riders saddle up throughout summer | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Gymkhana riders saddle up throughout summer

Northwest Colorado residents of all ages have been horsing around the last couple months.

Craig Gymkhana completed its summer season this week after Wednesday sessions across June and July at Moffat County Fairgrounds.

The weekly equine event featured barrel racing, flag racing and pole bending for both adults and kids, with some participants as young as 1 year old on horseback.

For the youngest riders, parents are involved — especially at the beginning of the season — either by guiding horses and ponies around the arena on foot or in the saddle with them.

However, organizer Kim Jones said after several weeks of practice, many kids make huge progress and move on to riding entirely by themselves.

“The biggest thing it teaches them is self-esteem, confidence and patience,” she said.

Jones said the gymkhana attendance has varied each week, though the average was about 50 riders for each gathering.

The summertime event has undergone several name changes over recent years, though when Jones took over the

“She has done a fabulous job, there have been so many more people coming out each week,” Hayden’s Erica Harpole said of Jones.

Harpole’s daughter, Holly Fisher, experienced a minor spinal injury when she was bucked off a horse this summer, with the girl currently on the mend and aiding with gymkhana timing this week.

Harpole said Jones quickly led people in prayer for Holly’s swift recovery.

“There’s very caring people here,” Harpole said.

With many riders large and small in the fairgrounds holding arena Wednesday evening awaiting their turn to race, Tim Hicks was among those ensuring horses were good to go.

“They’ve really done a good job of getting all the rough spots out and making it work,” he said of Jones and her family.

Tim was also keeping an eye on his daughter, Scooter, as she hit the barrel course.

Though she has a good deal of riding experience under her belt, Scooter — who will be a high school freshman this fall — said her performance at the gymkhana started “rough” this summer but progressively got better.

“Barrels are probably my favorite, but poles are just fun to do,” she said. “I love going out on these horses.”

Scooter had two riding companions with her this week — Lakota, a male horse she’s owned for four years and a mare named Cash who’s still new to her.

Though the riding portions are done for the season, Craig Gymkhana will have an awards ceremony within the next month to celebrate kids’ performances.

With success this year, Jones said she plans to expand the program next summer with more opportunities, adding that there have been too many volunteers and sponsors in the area to mention who have aided the gymkhana program to a successful season.

“I definitely couldn’t do it without all of them,” she said.