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Extreme Cowboys Race at Vail/Eagle Valley Rocky Mountain Horse Expo

Narrow victory margins are the stuff of legends, and when the timers clicked their watches off for the two top contenders in the Extreme Cowboy Race™ held June 1-2 in Eagle, Colorado, the margin was about as fine as a horse hair. Competing on the APHA palomino overo stallion Hank Styled This, Daniel Harris smoked the finals with a time of 4:17, edging out Craig Carr (at 4:18) by not much more than a hoof beat.

The Extreme Cowboy Race™ tests a cowboy or cowboy’s mettle against an array of inventive and challenging obstacles. According to event owner, HorseCity.com, the timed event is “designed to not only push horse and rider out of their traditional comfort zone, but also test the communication and horsemanship of each team. [In addition to a time score] judges award points based on a set of five criteria: horsemanship, cadence, control, horse's attitude, and overall execution.”

At the Eagle River Center, the scenic riverside course included downhill and uphill runs (both saddled and bareback), jumps with and without brush, a log jumble, a curtain of tarp strips, a tunnel, a bridge, and more—even a mounted shooting segment with exploding, smoke-filled balloons. Many of the obstacles and all of the overnight stabling pens were provided by the generous folks at Priefert Ranch Equipment, and erected by Priefert’s team with the help of Tom Harris and his willing Eagle County Fairgrounds crew.

Host Craig Cameron provided stride by stride commentary on each entrant’s skills, making it not only a thrilling event, but an educational one for rider and audience alike. “Oh, I like to see those nice, loose reins,” Cameron said more than once. “Watch those lead changes around the poles—perfect!” And “That’s the kind of focus it takes to get a job done.” Cameron, whose commentary was always encouraging, remarked more than once on the way a rider and horse worked smoothly together. At the end of the finals, he confirmed what the audience and contestants had suspected from the first rider’s dash down the hill and over the initial jumps: these cowboys and cowgirls all knew their way around a horse—and an “extreme” course.

Winner Daniel Harris has done almost all the training of Hank Styled This, and he is very pleased with the way his seven year old mount handled the race. “He was willing to try anything I pointed him to,” Harris says. “I couldn’t be prouder of him.” Although this was the first venture into competition for “Hank” (and the first Extreme Cowboy Race for the rider), Harris showed confidence in the stallion’s good training and extensive ranch experience as he took the horse through the course at a steady, virtually fearless pace. Hank’s owners, Peggy and Mitch Brasington of Salt Creek Ranch in Eagle, Colorado, use Hank around the ranch and for breeding. “He’s just a big sweetie,” says Peggy. “Most people don’t realize he’s a stallion until they see him with his mares; then the testosterone comes on and he looks just like his photographs.” (Artist Pamela Mougin has captured Hank in his stallion mode—pawing, snorting, and prancing; the images were on display at the Horse Expo.) Harris believes that exposing a horse to a wide variety of experiences is key to a solid foundation. Apparently he practices what he preaches—Harris shared fourth place on another Brasington stallion, AQHA-registered palomino Maximus Dream, another first timer in a show venue, and exclusively trained by Harris.

Craig Carr, of Brush, Colorado, swept into his close second on his six year old gelding, Captain Osage Roan. Craig competes regularly with Captain in Open Division Ranch Horse Versatility and Reined Cowhorse events, but he likes the format of the Extreme Race. From the beginning, he expressed his solid confidence in his horse, which showed in the smooth approach to every obstacle and the unwavering cadence of the ride. As he awarded Carr the second, Cameron joked in admiration, “I’ve got a fancy pocket knife and a few bills I’ll trade you for that horse.” No surprise that Carr just laughed.

RFD-TV caught the event for television, with commentary and interviews by Rick Lamb, host of TV/Radio “The Horse Show,” and additional footage by Diana Lamb. Watch for it to air in the next few weeks.

The Extreme Cowboy Race™, hosted by Craig Cameron, will return for the second annual Vail/Eagle Valley Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, May 30-June 1, 2008. The preliminary heats will be on Friday and Saturday, with the finals on Sunday. It’s not too early to start planning: To sign up for the Extreme Cowboy Race™, call Dalene at (254)728-3082. For more information on the Horse Expo, visit RockyMountainHorseExpo.com or call (303) 292-4981.

The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo salutes Daniel Harris, Craig Carr, and all the fine contestants and horses who bravely tackled the inventive course at the Eagle River Center. Extremely good horsemanship—that’s what the Extreme Cowboy Race™ proved to be all about.

 

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