Gymkhana Practice


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Gymkhana Practice

  1. 1. Gymkhana PracticeNothing improves an unseasonably warm winter day more than riding a horse. DanielleFulsher and Maria Badyk proved the point last Sunday, February 10, by taking part in agymkhana at the Millarville, AB racetrack complex. Danielle brought her mare, Aurorafra Moondance Acres, and Maria her gelding Icecap (Katur fra Fitjamyri). They were theonly Icelandics in a group dominated by Quarter Horses. There was one Appaloosa and acouple of Thoroughbreds rounding out the field of 22 horses.Mary Christine and I sat in the stands and cheered on the Icelandic crew. Well, wecheered almost anyone who did well, but more loudly for Danielle and Maria. It was veryinteresting watching a diverse bunch of people taking horses of different training levelsthrough each of the races. I love being an armchair commentator, something I practiceregularly at the Spruce Meadows jumping competitions. I don’t do these events myself,but I’ll sure give you my opinion on how it should be done!The first “event” was pole bending. There was no official timer, and riders were able toproceed at whatever pace suited their horses at the moment. Some were obviously quitecompetitive. Others were giving young horses the experience of working in a new settingwith lots of distractions. One woman was working with a very sensitive gelding that feltevery piece of apparatus was hiding a cougar, even the skinny poles. Danielle and Aurorashowed lots of verve and fine turns, giving the course everything they could. They beatout most of the other horses in fine style. Aurora was clearly exhilarated by the finalstretch, going flat out with Danielle whooping encouragement.Next was the stake race. Then the barrel race. By this time, Maria and Icecap had arrivedand they put in a very nice cloverleaf run. Icecap mixed gaits happily as he made his tripsbut did some nice tight turns en route. Aurora also completed her runs in style. The poor
  2. 2. fearful Quarter Horse gelding was walked in wide circles around the terrifying whitebarrels but did much better in his second attempt and earned his rider some applause.By this time, MC and I were fielding questions from other spectators. What kind ofhorses are they? Are they all white (Aurora’s winter color; in summer she’s a lightpalomino) This was before Icecap showed up. Are they that hairy all year round? Howbig are they? It was fun filling in the mainly cowboy onlookers about Icelandics. Theycome in any color other than the spotting pattern like Appaloosas. They do look sleekerin the summer. Most are between 13 and 14 hands, with exceptions on either side. Andthey are loads of fun.Finally, Danielle and Maria paired up to run the keyhole race side by side. There wasmuch hooting and hollering to cheer them down the arena, around the circle and backacross the finish line. The afternoon was rounded off with some flag race practice. Twoshaggy icys showed the Big Horses just how versatile Icelandics can be.Cara Moser