Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 3rd Annual Red Bird Ranch - Functional Horsemanship Arena Obstacle Challenge

This years annual Arena Obstacle Challenge will be on Saturday 30 September 2017 at the same location - Red Bird Ranch, 13999 Fort Defiance, El Paso, Texas 79938.

The times have changed just a bit from the earlier versions of event flyers, as my phone calls and e-mails indicate a larger pool of rider necessitating a slightly earlier start.

Here's the final schedule:

08:00 am - Rider Check In – Will need to present current negative Coggins or Health Certificate
09:00 am - Rider's Briefing/Course Walk Through
09.20 am - First Rider competes in the Arena
12:45 pm - Lunch, Awards and Prizes
2:00 pm - Arena Open for Obstacle Schooling

Conduct of the Event: This AOC is not affiliated with ACTHA or ETS, however the conduct of the AOC, the obstacles and scoring will be similar to you if you have ever ridden in those associations.
We have four division of competition - Stockhorse, Open, Intermediate and Novice:

Stockhorse Division would require handling a lariat while horseback, throwing a loop and likely dragging a static object.

Open Division is for advanced riders who likely have won or placed high at ACTHA or ETS events.

Intermediate Division, similar to ACTHA Pleasure Division, is for experienced riders, maybe on greener horses, who have competed before at arena or trail challenges or even AQHA Trail Class events.

Novice Division, similar to ACTHA Scout Division, is for riders who can safely ride and attempt obstacles and likely do occasional trail rides on their horses.

While it would not be such a great advantage knowing the obstacles before hand, I will not publish the course until the rider's brief just before competition begins.  Many of us have experience our horses flawlessly crossing bridges and tarps, etc., only the have them balk at the same obstacle at a different location.

There are no time limits associated with an obstacle. We 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. At the conclusion of the event, if anyone wants to re-enter the arena and work on any obstacles with their horse they are welcome to and I'll be there to offer help.  Not all of the obstacles will be physical obstacles - likely somewhat less than half will be tasks such as a lateral movement, or half turn on the fore end, or gait transitions. 

Entry fees are $45 per run. Each rider enters the arena, one at a time, and completes a series of obstacles – usually no more than 14 total. 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. One entry fee also include lunch - a pretty good lunch by the way.

Awards and Prizes:  Aside from the plaques for the Champions in each Division and ribbons for 1st through 6th Place in each division, we have special awards not limited to highest scoring horse and rider from a Rescue organization, highest placing youth under 16 years old, and longest haul to competition. The prize table is really decent by AOC standards. I don't think we have had a competitor, even with the lowest score, leaving without prizes and awards that were not more valuable than the entry fee. I am still receiving this year's contributions and donations from our industry supporters. A full list of supporters will be included in the competitors' entry bags as well as the final AOC results article, but in the past we have enjoyed support from many including: Smart Pak, Cashel, Hoof Wraps, Noble Outfitters, Manna Pro, Eclectic Horseman magazine, Camel Bak, Chaff Hay, Sanctuary Leather, Riders Tack and Feed, Diamond Bar V Horseshoeing, One Stop Horse Shop, and Starr Western Wear.

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 sale items. And lastly a tack table will be available for people who want to sell or trade, new or used tack and related items.

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.
~ Electronically: 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.

Questions: Call Brad at 915.204.7995 or e-mail questions to:

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