As long as humans have sat upon horses, sports seem to have come along for the ride. But after all these ages, another one tailor made for modern Quesnel has gotten started in our equine-savvy city.
Working equitation is an answer to the riders who have always had to choose between Western style and English style riding, but always felt there was room to collaborate. Now, horse and rider can go through a set of challenges that braid the two into one. The second annual Cariboo Gold Classic was just held at the Bouchie Lake community hall and livestock grounds as the sport gains traction.
“We are very much in the baby stags to build the sport,” said organizer and advocate Marion Steinmaier. “There is no segregation, it doesn’t matter what tack you ride in, it is totally inclusive. It was always either-or, no collaboration.”
The four phases of a working equitation competition are the same around the world. There is a dressage test, an ease-of-handling obstacle course for showing control of the horse, then a phase of doing the same obstacle course at speed, then the fourth is a cattle component. Quesnel’s two annual competitions have not included the cattle component, due to lack of bovine resources, but in a community as flush with beef as the Cariboo, Steinmaier said that was just a short-term growing pain that would soon be rectified.
It was 2017 when the sport got going in Quesnel. There is a national body and it has just been accepted as an affiliate of the global body. Quesnel is home base for the Working Equitation-North Cariboo Chapter. The Quesnel & District Riding Club was instrumental in getting this niche group together.
“We are growing by leaps and bounds,” said Steinmaier, who happily reported there were 18 competitors who signed on for 32 total rounds over the two days (Aug. 19-20).
Demetra Kinsey riding Luna came away with the highest point total over the weekend.
“We had lots more interest after the show. We want to give horse people more to do than what there has been. The biggest part that attracts most people to it is, you can ride with your friends, no matter what kind of tack you use, and there’s some competition involved to make it fun.”
Many of the competitors came from out of town. Last year they came from as far away as Fort St. John and Alberta, this year from places like Smithers, Aldergrove and Falkland. A veteran judge was flown in from California for this event, to set the adjudication bar high.
The next nearest event is the Fall Fling in Red Deer. Earlier in the summer was an event in Armstrong. The Cariboo Gold Classic is putting Quesnel on the map for this fledgling sport circuit. Anyone wishing more information can reach out to the group via the Working Equine North Cariboo Chapter page on Facebook, or email WENorthCariboo@gmail.com.