There was still plenty of trotting and jumping, but numbers were significantly down at the 2011 Whitehorse Series Finale Horse Show hosted by the Yukon Horse and Rider Association at its show grounds over the weekend.
A total of 55 horse-and-rider teams took part in the show, down from 98 last summer.
The main cause for the drop in participation was the absence of Juneau teams. Juneau’s veterinarian recently moved from the Alaska capital, and Juneau riders were unable to get certification for their horses to cross the border.
“They make about 30 horse-and-rider combinations, so not having them did change the competition substantially,” said YHRA events manager Anne Lewis. “So we were disappointed, but we heard they are coming next year.
“They are in a bit of a transition. We talked to their club two-and-a-half, three months ago about seeing if there was anything we could do, if we could co-ordinate to fly a vet over there. But the club decided back in January that they were going to take this year off. It’s a big expense for them. They have to come over for a month.”
The show also felt the squeeze from a drop in local western riders. This was partly due to fewer available western coaches in the Yukon, but it’s also just the natural ebb and flow in the popularity of equestrian styles, said Lewis.
“There always seems to be a cycle,” she said. “And what I think is contributing to it is there are a lot of English instructors and coaches right now and fewer western and reining coaches. There were some amazing western coaches that were here but have since moved onto other things. Some of the older coaches are bringing in new kids that aren’t ready yet (to compete).”
While numbers were down, a new format was deemed a success at this year’s show, which has gone under a few different names in its 32-year history.
Last year, the YHRA took the first steps towards becoming a sanctioned event under Equine Canada, the national equestrian governing body, and operated under the specified guidelines, offering riders the conditions and judging they would receive at a sanctioned event.
In a change of direction, this year’s show featured schooling shows with clinics attached. Unlike a sanctioned finale or championship show in which judges are not allowed to communicate with riders, the schooling show is less formal and judges can provide riders with feedback about their performances.
“This change from last year is based on the feedback that we received from our members,” said Lewis. “They wanted greater opportunities to practise and prepare. A bronze-level show, like the one we did last year, is highly competitive, with strict rules and regulations and the level of judging is substantial higher.
“YHRA decided this year to host three schooling shows with clinics as we have a number of novice and young riders who would enjoy the opportunity to participate in a relaxed competitive environment. The schooling shows mimic a finale event, but the focus is on learning and training at these events.
“We plan to run this format for the next two years, to increase our exposure and the level of participation.”
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