Canadian Cowboy Challenge hosting year end event

The Canadian Cowboy Challenge (CCC) association is finishing up its inaugural year with a final event and awards banquet, Jan. 14.

The event, which will take place at Prairie Mountain Ranch in Madden, will feature $4,000 in cash and prizes. Winners in each of the association’s six categories will also be awarded as will the member who has displayed the best overall horsemanship.

Danita Phelan, CCC president, is thrilled at the popularity of the newly introduced sport, which grew by leaps and bounds during its first season.

“We were blown away with the response to the sport here in Canada,” said Phelan.

“We have 82 members this year, which is extraordinary. I am just unbelievably delighted with how it has taken off. I am so impressed with the way people’s horsemanship has grown.”

The CCC association, which sets up clinics and events, provides an opportunity for riders of all ages to display their partnership skills with their horses while manoeuvering a number of obstacles.

CCC is a judged and timed event that requires both speed and skill. Competitors are awarded between one and 10 points for each obstacle based on horsemanship, fluidity, control and speed. Judges look for clear, succinct guidance from competitors and fluid, non-hesitant movements from the horse while awarding a maximum of 150 points. If the horse shies away or halts on an obstacle, points are subtracted.

This year’s final event will feature riders ranging in age from seven to 76 from as far north as Stettler and south to Nanton, with skill levels from beginner to professional. The competitors come from a number of backgrounds, said Phelan, including western pleasure, reining and trail riders.

Since its inception six months ago, the organization has held seven challenges attracting an average of about 25 riders for each event.

According to Phelan, many more have shown interest in the sport, including groups from both B.C. and Saskatchewan.

“It just demonstrates how popular it is and how people want to ride and ride well,” said Phelan. “It is the best fun.”

Phelan said the events are also fun to attend and spectators can expect to be educated about how points are awarded. Spectators can attend the Madden event for free and can join association members at their banquet for $15, she added.

“It is definitely a spectator sport,” she said. “Our announcer makes it accessible to all the spectators so they understand what the judges are looking for.”

The first challenge of the new season will take place in Bergen in February, followed by a teaching clinic and event in Cochrane in March.

Phelan encourages horse enthusiasts to check out the CCC.

“We would encourage them to get involved because the overall premise is to understand horsemanship and to be able to develop a partnership with your horse,” said Phelan.

“There is no pressure on people at all. It is social, everybody is there to help everyone else. It doesn’t matter how old you are… we have something for everyone. That is the beauty of the sport, it ends up being a real family sport.”

Prairie Mountain Ranch in MaddenSharon Hay, 65, and her horse Snuffy wow the judges with her time of 6.21.50 in the Older than Dirt category of the Canadian Cowboy Challenge, held at the Lions Rodeo Grounds in Cochrane, July 30. The association is hosting its season finale and awards banquet at the Prairie Mountain Ranch in Madden on Jan. 14.

Source: Rocky View Weekly

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