Isis holds Mickey, while Miwa Hiroe holds Pride, as they take a break from competition and the horses graze. / BRIAN MCKIRDY


Summer means fun for a horse, of course.

On Saturday, Jun. 24 the Valemount Saddle and Wagon Club held its first gymkhanas of the summer down at the rodeo grounds on Loseth Road.

The first event saw 11 riders enter. Two people entered in with two different horses, so while there were only 11 riders entered there were actually 13 horses. Five riders were in the under 10 years old category, two were in the under 20, and four were over 20 category.

A ghymkaha is part of a rodeo, according to Saddle and Wagon Club Member Karen McKirdy.

Sarah Elliot cleans off her face while riding Cheyenne. It gets dusty out there. / BRIAN MCKIRDY

Riders typicalls ride at high speeds while working around barrels, poles, and flag courses.

There is usually five different events during a gymkhana, she says, including specific patterns around the barrels; picking up flags while riding around barrels, and then replacing the flags; specific patterns around poles; and an event involving stakes — which riders form a figure eight around two poles; and an event in which a keyhole is drawn into the ground; riders circle the keyhole and are scored based upon avoiding the line — if the horse touches the line, the riders are disqualified.

“The events work your horse by having them plays games, essentially,” says McKirdy.

“It stimulates their minds a bit,” she says.

Katy Elliot and her daughter Sarah go for a trot with a horse named Cheyenne. / BRIAN MCKIRDY

The next gymkhana in Valemount is scheduled for Saturday July. 22. Registration will be on the day of at 1 PM, and the event starts at 2 PM.

For more information, Contact the Valemount Saddle and Wagon Club via its Facebook Page, or call Karen McKirdy at 566-5131.

Isis Hiroe and Snow Parisi work around some poles with pony, Mickey. / BRIAN MCKIRDY


Ainsling Ives enjoying an afternoon on horseback, riding Poco. / BRIAN MCKIRDY