Saturday, August 10, 2019

2019 5th Annual Functional Horsemanship Arena Challenge

The 5th Annual Functional Horsemanship Arena Challenge is scheduled for 5 October 2019.   The main purpose for this event is to challenge riders so at the end of the day each rider can say it was worth their time competing and they have discovered some things to work on.  

In fact, one lady who rode the first three years told me that the challenge format became her practice list for the year.

In last year's (2018) Stockhorse course, the rider entered the arena and rode two full 40' circles at the trot; then transitioned to the arena fence trotting back and forth along the fence demonstrating a roll back in one direction then the other; trot to a cone and demonstrate a stop, then side pass Right over a ground pole, back straight up for 12 feet then side pass Left over a ground pole;  move to a gate and open the gate, ride through, then close and latch the gate; throw a heel or hip shot at a roping dummy, then throw a head loop; drag a heavy log backwards, then forwards; pickup a rope anchored low on the fence and spin their horse underneath it; dismount and back their horse up without the rider you moving; and finishing with walking away from their horse demonstrate ground tying.   If I had to describe a trend, the riders who roped, dragged and ground tied well, had problems with the side pass and backing.  The riders who side passed and backed well, did not do so well in the roping, log drag or ground tying.

Last year's Open Division course was to enter the arena then step into an 8’ box, perform two circles with forward momentum - as simple as this sounds it proved to be difficult for many; exit the box and trot two complete circles around 4 cones demonstrating square turns - another difficult task as who practices square turns?; walk through serpentine upright poles - these poles were close together and required well over 90 degree turn backs; perform a lope/canter departure; demonstrate a stop; demonstrate a 360 turn on the hocks; side pass Right; back straight, then back a circle around a traffic cone; side pass Left; open and close a gate; place their horse’s front feet on a 3' x 3' platform and walk the horse's back end around the platform keeping the front feet on the platform (turn on the front end) - yet another difficult task for most; pick up a tennis ball from a bucket – move and place the ball on a traffic cone; move through the cowboy curtain; drag a bag of cans backwards and forwards; and finally, walk through two barrels close together without touching the barrels.

This event is also unusual in that it is not time driven for score, no time limit on an  obstacle. I prefer that a horse and rider complete an obstacle even after many attempts as this is much better for the horse, as opposed to only one or two short failed attempts then being pushed to move on to the next obstacle, so the judges will be generous in this regard only asking the rider to give up and move on if, in the judges opinion, completion of that obstacle isn't going to happen.

Entry fees are $45 per Division entry. Each rider enters the arena, one at a time, and completes a series of horsemanship tasks and obstacles – usually no more than 14 total. One or two judges will score each obstacle for a combined score for placement within each Division. One rider can ride different horses in the same or different divisions. The same horse can be used by several people in the same or different divisions as well. We are working out the lunch as this is written. Be prepared to pay a nominal fee for lunch as we will likely bring a vendor in to cook street taco plates. However, entry fee does include coffee and pastries at check in and drinks throughout the day.

I am just less than 60 days out from the 5 October 2019 Arena Challenge and still receiving support from the industry - a full list of supporters and contributors will be posted in the post event article, but I can't say enough about Cashel Company who always comes through with some really nice items for the prize table, and Starr Western Wear who provided significant support.  

Starr Western Wear will be coming to shoot stills and videos for commercials -so ladies, look your best as usual. There will be a raffle with all proceeds going to a horse rescue. This year the designated rescue is: Perfect Harmony Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) organization out of Chaparral, New Mexico. We already have several other vendors committed to attending and putting up product displays and offering items for sale. And lastly a tack table will be available for people who want to sell or trade, new or used tack and related items.

Perfect Harmony Horse Rescue and Sanctuary:
How to Sign up:
~ By Phone: Call Brad at 915-204-7995. I will enroll you and your horse over the phone and take payment via a Credit Card.
~ E-mail/PayPal: Send an e-mail to and provide Name, Address, Phone, E-mail, Horse Name and Competing Division and pay via PayPal to Either way you will receive a confirmation on entry via e-mail and an event flyer with directions.