Saturday, March 14, 2009

Extreme Cowboy Race

The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is always a lot of fun and last year's Expo is where I heard the casting call for "Horse Master with Julie Goodnight", so the fact that the Expo turned my little girl Estes and me into TV stars (yeah, right) will always endear the Expo to me.

This year, I was a little disappointed (OK, a LOT disappointed) that Julie wouldn't be a clinician - the first time in 15 years - but, I was super excited about Craig Cameron's "Extreme Cowboy Race". The XCR is a timed event in which the horse and rider are scored on their ability to complete 13 different obstacles and the rider is scored on his or her horsemanship. I'd given serious thought to asking Ida to ride Estes for me, but one look at the $250 entry fee had me thinking again.

After watching the race, I really wish I had entered Estes - she could have done all of the obstacles, though I might have had trouble with a couple. Side-passing over logs and backing between fence panels may have done me in. I'm not so fond of the jumping either, but it wasn't like Hunter/Jumper jumping, just little 18" jumps to simulate deadfall, so I'd've been ok.

While I love watching the XCR (check out some videos on YouTube), I just worry about it becoming an "event". Versatility Ranch Horse competitions were a lot of fun to watch until they became so regulated and people started training their horses for the "events". What I loved about the Versatility Ranch Horse competitions when I first saw them, is that they were (or seemed) real, something that any "real" ranch horse could do. Now, the horses and riders train only for those competitions; there are no real working ranch horses in them, only expensive, over-trained, pedigreed horses.

My fear is that XCR will succumb to the same fate. Already, there's an XCRA (Extreme Cowboy Race Association) and that's the first step in becoming an "event". So while I'll continue to enjoy them and contemplate entering, I'll also be mourning the slow death of a competition that was once for anyone with a willing horse.

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