As summer draws to a close, many of the rodeo groups begin to wrap up their outdoor seasons.
The North Cariboo Gymkhana Society (NCGS) held its final Wednesday event on Sept. 29 at Alex Fraser Park in what were fairly soupy conditions, thanks to a powerful afternoon rain shower.
Fourteen riders participated in pole bending, barrel racing and turn and burn – an event where riders race towards a barrel, circle it twice and race back to the line.
Although friendly competition existed, moods were high at the first event following two weeks of cancellations due to smoke.
Contestants took turns cheering each other on or having a good laugh when things didn’t go as planned. Even announcer Dave Strang joined in the fun, whipping the odd verbal barb from his perch in the booth above the grounds.
“It’s been a good season,” says Lindsay Brunt, NCGS’s president.
“We’ve had a lot of new riders to the club, so our membership is high.”
Brunt says they even have their first regular out-of-towner, a competitor from Williams Lake who has been making the drive north to partake.
Brunt keeps the event fresh by switching up the events regularly.
“Every week has something different, so it’s not the same old, same old. We still do barrels and poles every week, but we always have something new to keep it fresh.”
Impressing everyone this year has been the growth of young rider Kayden Proulx, 12. Brunt says Proulx got a brand new horse this year that took a bit of getting used to, but the pair have made huge headway since.
“The horse was refusing to go through the gate earlier on in the season, but now flows through the run and Proulx is now first place in her age group.”
One of the downfalls this year has been the condition of the grounds at the park.
“We’ve had lots of ups and downs with the footing,” says Brunt.
“This week it was a swamp, which was a little bit trying.
“The City and the park have put a lot of money into it and we can’t seem to find a happy medium which works for all the different rodeo events.”
The last event of the season will be a double-header at Alex Fraser Park on Saturday, Sept. 8. Brunt says it will be a fun day, as they will be adding some some new activities like relay games.
“It will not just be competitive timed events,” she says, “We’re adding some relay games, and others where riders are judged on ability like riding with an egg-and -spoon and we’ll do an obstacle course.”
The egg-and-spoon races will be done like a command class, so the announcer will call out paces and riders will have to adjust.
Golf balls will be used in lieu of eggs to be a little less wasteful.
A dinner will be held on the following day, after which awards will be handed out to the members.