Lovers of horse shows are in for another summer treat this weekend.
Just a month after the Wild and Lawless Horse Show took place over the Canada Day long weekend, the Black Gold Reining Show is slated to run Saturday and Sunday at Dawson Creek’s Lakota Agri-Centre.
As of Wednesday afternoon, organizers reported 73 horses entered from as far away as southern Saskatchewan, Calgary, Smithers and Prince George and as close as the communities around the Peace Country.
Prior to moving to Dawson Creek this year, the show was held for one year in Grande Prairie and before that was in Fairview for three years.
“It has been growing bigger and bigger,” said Dallas Schwerdt, the show’s general manager who moved the show to Dawson Creek because the Agri-centre had the stalls to accommodate the visiting horses.
“Dawson was the facility that could meet our large [exhibitors] and they have been phenomenal to work with. The board of directors there has been excellent.
“The biggest thing was the stalling. [Grande Prairie’s] Evergreen Park has the stalls, but with the race track and the wagon people there they couldn’t guarantee the stalls we may need, whereas Lakota made it happen for us.”
This will be the first year the show has been approved by the National Reining Horse Association.
There will be some top-notch riders and horses at the event, including some horses that have been to many of the major shows in Texas and Oklahoma and one horse that appeared in an Olympic Games.
However, the organizers also encourage riders of other ability levels to participate and gain some competitive experience.
“We are trying to make it a fun event,” said Schwerdt.
“We still have what we call grassroots classes. Those are the classes for people who have less experience and can get their feet wet and get the experience of going into the show pen and get some feedback from our judges so they can improve. We are trying to make it a nice, un-intimidating environment.”
The competition runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and admission is free.
Organizers will hold a money-added non-pro derby for those people who do reining as a hobby on the Saturday night and half the pot will go to the Peace Area Riding for the Disabled Society.
As well, there will be a couple of singers performing after the derby Saturday night.
For those unfamiliar with reining and the scoring system the judges use, “each class is assigned a specific pattern that all participants in that class must follow,” reads a pamphlet distributed by the organizers.
“Every competitor enters the arena with a score of 70. From that point on each maneuver is judged based on difficulty and correctness of the maneuver – maneuvers are assigned a score of -1 ½, -1, -½ , 0, +½, +1, + 1 ½…. There are also various penalty points that may be assigned such as break of gait, which results in an automatic two-point penalty. At the end of the run, the judge checks the bit being used to ensure that it is legal and then does a “walk around” of the horse to confirm that the rider has not caused injury to the animal via harsh use of the spurs or bits.”