Gymkhana is a great way for kids and adults to polish their horsemanship skills and enjoy some camaraderie with other riders.
The Williams Lake Trail Riders Association is among groups that host gymkhanas in the region and is very supportive of young riders, says Joan Oliver, whose granddaughter, Kali Oliver, participated in the events Sunday.
She says Kali lives in Prince George and is spending a month with them this summer, most of it riding with the Williams Lake Trail Riders Association.
“I am so impressed with the club. Everyone is so helpful,” Oliver says. “When people say there is nothing to do in Williams Lake I have to disagree. You just have to look around. People can sit in the stands and watch gymkhana for free.”
2014-15 Stampede Princess Matina Durfeld was among the gymkhana participants Sunday as well. Durfeld is an experienced and winning Stampede horse racer who says gymkhana is a great way for her to train her young, seven-year-old horse, Amigo.
Debbie Fadenrecht, the Trail Rider’s vice-president and gymkhana co-ordinator says she makes sure that every gymkhana participant goes home with a prize.
Ribbons for time are given to sixth place and after that riders go home with a participant ribbon.
“Everybody goes home with something at the end of the day,” Fadenrecht says. And a little something extra Sunday were some really good bubble blowers.
“For me it’s for the kids, to see the smiles on their faces,” Fadenrecht says.
The gymkhana events include barrels (a straight line of three barrels to alternate around; speed barrels (set up for racing), poles (weaving in and out around six poles; stakes (navigating around two poles); and keyhole (riding straight and circling around in a chalk keyhole drawn in the ring).
Fadenrecht says the trail riders hold six gymkhanas a year and wrap up the season with a fun day in October.
The next trail-rider’s gymkhana will be on Sunday, Aug. 23 with registration at 9 a.m. and the start time at 10 a.m.
As an aside to the question of things to do in Williams Lake Joan and her husband also enjoy volunteering with various community events including the Daybreak Rotary Stampede Parade where they participate as clowns.
Joan was Cat in the Hat this year and said it was so cute when one little boy looked up at her in awe and said: ‘I read all your books.’”