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The Woodlands Ste. Anne Gymkhana Club held its annual Jackpot Weekend on August 5 and 6 at the Westward Centre grounds. Clubs from all over North/Central Alberta were invited and 67 different riders signed on to take part.
“Each horse has to do four events,” explained Pat Mattson, president of the local gymkhana club. Events included barrel racing, pole bending, stake race, flag picking, and keyhole. “Pole bending is a slalom type pattern around six poles,” said Pat, and “stake race is a figure eight pattern.”
Riders showcased their ability to become one with their horses in a dance-like way as they turned on a dime and weaved through the different events. “Junior riders do a keyhole event which is a form on the ground made of flour that looks like a giant keyhole slot. They have to run in, turn around, and come back out without touching any of the flour.”
Gymkhana is an equestrian event that consists of a speed pattern of racing and timed events for riders on horses. It is very demanding for both horses and riders for their agility and training. Weekend attendees were as young as four and up to the seventies. Even a bit of rain couldn’t damper the excitement of the weekend as people cheered riders from the gallery at one end of the indoor barn.
“We have a lot of people showing good sportsmanship and getting out and helping set up. Not just from our club either. People from other clubs get out there and we all lend a hand and everybody has a lot of fun,” said Pat.
The fun continues into the evening as folks come together for music and stories under the stars. “We usually get together around the campfire and bring out the fiddles and guitars and everyone sings. It’s a really good cultural event for the whole family.”
To learn more about gymkhana and the local scene, visit www.albertaprovincialgymkhana.com.