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Versatility Goes National with NVRHA

MONUMENT, Colorado, July 15, 2008: To kick off its inaugural year, the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association (nvrha.org) hosted a fun and educational weekend at the 4-star C Lazy U Ranch (clazyu.com) in Granby, Colorado May 24-26, 2008. With 55 horse owners and enthusiasts attending, the two-day clinic offered instruction for novices and continuing education and fun for veteran showmen practicing the sport’s five events: working ranch horse, ranch riding, ranch cutting, ranch trail and ranch conformation. The association’s first year will wrap up September 26-28, 2008 in Colorado Springs Colorado during the first ever NVRHA National Finals.

NVRHA President Dave Currin is thrilled with the association’s fast growth and participants’ enthusiasm. “We already have 120 members—and events scheduled in more than 10 states,” he says. “The numbers are growing every day because we have events that are focused on education and fun and helping riders to improve their skills—no matter what riding level they start out. Our C Lazy U weekend was an amazing way to kick off our program in a fun and beautiful setting. We had a blast and showed new riders what our event is all about. Now, we’re excited to keep up the momentum throughout the year’s many events and to the NVRHA National Finals. It’s going to be a fun first year!”

At C Lazy U, NVRHA guests were treated to posh living quarters and world-class dining before and after their focused horse time. Participants divided into small groups and spent a half-day working on their competition skills with each notable clinician: Sandy Collier (working cow horse), Dwayn Hoelsher (reining), Jack McComber (cutting), and Merrit Linke (roping).

The special event drew participation from seasoned ranch horse enthusiasts and the association’s founding members. NVRHA professional advisor and well-known trainer Julie Goodnight (juliegoodnight.com) attended to sharpen her skills with her horse—and to have some fun with her horse-riding friends. She rounded up a group of horse-riding friends from around Colorado and as far away as Hawaii and encouraged them to try their hand at ranch, roping and cow work.

“It was a fun-packed, busy-every-minute, wild-ride of a weekend,” Goodnight says. “With nine horses and about 12 friends in tow, my husband Rich and I headed to C Lazy U to introduce our friends to the sport. It was immediately obvious that we were going to have a fantastic time there—and everyone learned so much.”

Lucy Achenbach, of Denver, Colorado traveled with Goodnight to the NVRHA event. “Julie was a great impetus for me getting into this sport,” Achenbach says. “She knows I love western riding and that I’ve been doing a lot of trail riding in the mountains. I like to learn new things and this was a great opportunity. My horse, Dodger, has cow sense and has been trained to do all the elements of versatility. It’s all new to me, but it’s wonderful to have a finished horse to learn with—he knows all the skills, so we don’t both have to learn everything—it’s just me that has to learn! Being here has been a tremendous opportunity for me to see exactly what’s expected of each rider and horse. It takes the pressure off—I now know what to expect and I got to be in a non-threatening, gorgeous environment while I found out what NVRHA was all about. My initial thought was that everything would be so fast and I’d be expected to know so much. The clinics have taught me that it’s all about starting where you’re are. It’s fun.”

Cheryl Lee of Salida, Colorado agrees that while there are many different elements to learn and master in NVRHA competitions, it’s easy to get started. “You can ride at your own level during the clinics and even during the competition,” Lee says. “I had constant encouragement and I didn’t feel pressure to do what I wasn’t ready to do. I’ve ridden a lot in the past, but I’ve never shown or been judged. The judges were complimentary and gave me tips to do even better next time. I’ve never done cow work before—and that was admittedly intimidating—but I saw that it could be done in a slow and controlled way with a quiet approach—I could go at my own pace. When it was time to compete, the judges could talk to me because I was a novice and they even coached me along a bit. That was really encouraging. I’m ready to go again!”

Todd Winczewski of Granby, Colorado, was the on-site event coordinator during the C Lazy U clinic and competition. He’s also a NVRHA addict. “We’re all horse people sharing one common denominator—our love for horses. I've gained a new sort of family. All the members are just great down to earth people trying to get better at horsemanship. I've met new and exciting people from all over our state and now even other states. I'm always excited to go to another event to visit with new and old friends.”

The NVRHA has over 15 scheduled clinics and competition events leading up to the premiere NVRHA National Finals to be held at Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado this September. Horse owners must compete in at least one other NVRHA event before competing in the money-offering Finals. The Finals weekend will be as much of a celebration as the kick-off event at C Lazy U. Currin plans a barbecue dinner at The Flying W Steak House and has scheduled Western-themed entertainers to perform.

Currin looks forward to the first-ever NVRHA Finals and adds, “It will be a world class event built to ensure the future of the greatest horse on earth—the American ranch horse, the legend.”

About the NVRHA

NVRHA combines the excitement of five events in one sport: working ranch horse (combining reining, working cow horse and roping disciplines), ranch riding (focusing on transitions and your horse’s precise steps around obstacles), ranch cutting, ranch trail, and ranch conformation. While seeking excitement with horses and education and friendliness among horsemen, the association seeks to promote the all-around, ranch horse. This is the horse of western legend—the horse that can do any job and be a trusted partner in the cowboy way of life.

If you’re ready to get off the rail and see what you and your horse can do, check out the NVRHA clinics near you. Before each NVRHA competition, you’ll be guided through the competition events by qualified clinicians—helping you understand each of the 5 different sports that make up NVRHA competitions. Whether you’re a new rider and new to any ranch-horse work or you and your horse have competed in events such as reining or competitive trail, you’ll find challenge and fun at NVRHA events.

The NVRHA’s involvement with ranches and ranch-horse breeding programs ensures that the sport’s focus will stay true to traditional ranching culture. It’s time to ride the legend. Find the NVRHA event closest to you: 2008 events are scheduled in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and South Dakota.


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