CHANCE HARBOUR – Well over 300 people passed through the gates of Sumac Farms on Saturday and that’s straight from the horse’s mouth.
The farm hosted the largest horse reining competition in the Maritimes with over 70 horses and riders from all over the Atlantic Provinces including Newfoundland. This is the third year Sumac Farms has hosted the horse reining competition, Sumac Slide.
Mona Lewis of the National Reining Horse Association said while reining is competitive, at the end of the day the entrants are all in it together.
“It’s like one big family,” she said. “Everyone is very encouraging and supportive of each other.”
It’s also very diverse. Horse riders, both male and female, compete for the top score and range in age from 11- to 60-years-old.
Many younger competitors had a chance to try out the more experienced horses in ‘Ultimate Reiner’, a new class added to encourage new people to the sport.
“Competitors got a chance to ride veteran horses of the reining competitions with all the rules of the regular competitions.”
Jamie MacCullum, 16, of Green Hill was one of the competitors from Pictou County who took part. She’s been riding for eight years and has been preparing for the competition since May.
“I always ride at Sumac once a week, but in the last weeks I’ve been coming here twice a week,” she noted. “It’s a balance of working the horse, but also giving it time to rest as well.”
Lewis agrees, noting that a horse and its rider must be strictly disciplined if they hope to compete successfully.
“It’s a lot of mental preparation. You’ve got to keep the horse from anticipating your directions and keep the horse in good physical and mental condition.”
Lewis noted that competition was honoured to have Francois Gauthier, known as a ‘Master’ of reining, to be this year’s presiding judge. Gauthier, originally from St. Hyacinth, Que. has owned and managed his very successful breeding and training facility in Lucama, North Carolina for past decades and was a medal winning Canadian team member of The World Equestrian Games in 2006.
According to Lewis, reining is a western riding discipline that shows the riders’ control and command of the horse.
“It comes from the days of cowboys when they needed to move their horses with precision to herd cattle,” she said. “Some horses start training when their three years old.”
The competition included circles, a fast but controlled ride, spinning on haunches and, the most exciting part of reining, the slide stop.
“Competitors bring their horse to an immediate halt and have the ability, thanks to special shoes on the horse, to slide along the ground,” said Lewis.
Many veteran riders slid up to 20 feet.
The National Horse Reining Association in Canada promotes and encourages the showing and breeding of reining horses and supports competitors who strive and succeed at the international level.
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