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Working horses get a workout in Lake City

By Staff | Aug 5, 2011

Todd Ayers, a farmer and farrier from Webb, competed in the working cow horse competition during the Iowa Ranch Horse Association event in Lake City Saturday.

LAKE CITY – Equine enthusiasts from Minnesota to Missouri saddled up and headed to the rodeo grounds in Lake City during this weekend for back-to-back Iowa Ranch Horse Association shows.

“It gets in your blood,” said Jody Blackburn of Winnebago, Minn., who bought her first ranch horse in 2002 in Humboldt and enjoys competing in the working cow horse events. “Lake City is one of our favorite places to come, because they have such a nice arena.”

Lake City has hosted a number of competitions through the years for the IRHA, a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 that promotes good horsemanship, sportsmanship in a family-friendly environment and proper handling of cattle. IRHA members gathered on Saturday at the Top Rail Saddle Club arena in Lake City for the first day of competition.

“These shows and the IRHA are dedicated to the promoting working horses and ranch horses, regardless of breed,” said Petzenhauser, who helped bring the IRHA events to Lake City nearly six years ago. “Some competitors are just learning, while others have done it for years, but we’re all in it for the fun.”

During the recent IRHA events, judges evaluated horses and riders on their proficiency in the skills one would need on an actual working ranch.

There are six different classes offered at shows to judge the horses, and each class was offered in open, amateur/novice and youth divisions. Prize money was awarded as paybacks for the top-placing riders in each class, which included:

  • Ranch horse pleasure. Designed to show that ranch horses are a pleasure to ride. Horses are required to work both ways in the arena at the walk, jog and lope.
  • Ranch horse versatility. This class features obstacles that ranch horses may encounter in their daily work. It also requires reining maneuvers that are useful to a skilled ranch horse. Obstacles include a gate, trotting over four logs, loping over a 12-inch jump, and dragging an obstacle. The reining work consists of loping circles each direction with lead changes, stopping, rollbacks and backing.
  • Working cow horse. This class shows a horse’s ability to work a cow. The competition consists of holding or boxing a cow at the end of the arena to show control, taking the cow down the fence and turning each direction, and then circling the cow in the middle of the arena in both directions.
  • Ranch roping. The objective is to catch a cow with as little chasing as possible. The rider sorts out a designated cow from the herd and ropes it with a breakaway rope.
  • Ranch cutting. A single cow is cut from the herd, and then the contestant pens the cow within the two-minute, 30-second time limit.
  • Ranch horse conformation. This class is designed to showcase the conformation necessary for a ranch horse to do his or her job under saddle. Horses are ridden into the ring for judging.

The IRHA is a unique organization, Blackburn said. “While we compete against each other, everyone supports each other and is willing to help each other out.”

For more information about the Iowa Ranch Horse Association, log onto www.iowaranchhorse.com.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at (515) 573-2141 or editor@messengernews.net

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