About 30 riders and horse lovers dressed for the Northwest Invitational Gymkhana held at the fairgrounds in Terrace Sept. 15 and 16.
Teams from Terrace, Houston and Fraser Lakes participated in the last speed horse racing event of the season, with Terrace taking the top spot with Houston and Fraser Lakes coming in second and third respectively.
“Houston had three amazing riders,” said organizer Danita Petch of the Totem Saddle Club, noting Houston had the smallest team.
“It’s a good thing… if they’d had a full team Terrace would have had their hands full,” she said.
A gymkhana is an equestrian competition where riders show off their precision, control and team-work skills in timed, race-against-the-clock events. It’s just one branch of the numerous horse-racing event that happens here in Terrace.
During the weekend, the top two riders from each age and from each town faced off against each other in teams of twelve – but Petch is quick to point out that even though teams are racing against each other there is a major sense of camaraderie and cooperation between teams at these events.
“It went off without a hitch,” said Petch. “There was a lot of good spirit around that place, good team spirit. It was great to see that many horse people pulling together at the event, really pleasant to see.”
Barrel racing, where riders have to navigate around barrels in a clover pattern, was one of the events here in Terrace, as well as a dash-for-cash finale on the second day.
The weekend was sponsored by Jock’s Excavating and Long’s Logging, said Petch.
“It was really great to have that support,” she said.
One of the highlights was the first “Sarah Ridler Memorial Ride”, a ride in honour of Ridler, a young horse-lover and rider who died tragically in 2007.
Ridler’s family presented a blanket to the event’s winner, Lyn Rempel.
“It was quite emotional,” said Petch, noting that it was a beautiful way to honour Ridler’s memory and that they are hoping to continue the tradition the next time the gymkhana is in Terrace.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the arena,” she said.
Next year’s invitational will be hosted in Fraser Lake, and there won’t be another gymkhana in Terrace until the spring.
But there will be a number of shows, poker rides and events coming up for people who want to check out the thriving horse riding culture here in the next few months.
Terrace might not necessarily the best place to raise livestock, said Petch, judging from the small amount of people in the area who do.
“But the people who do put their heart and soul into it,” she said, noting that it’s the hard work of these people who help these spectator-friendly events thrive.
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of practice,” she said.