Gymkhana Horses, Riders Defeat Cold

Gymkhana Horses, Riders Defeat Cold

Princess Riley Root, 14, of Pinedale was just one of many who participated in the December Gymkhana. SweetwaterNOW Photo by Paul Murray

ROCK SPRINGS — The temperature outside the Indoor Arena at the December 17 Gymkhana was a numbing 13 degrees. The temperature inside the Indoor Arena was about the same, as wide doors had to be kept open for horses and riders to enter.

The Indoor Arena gradually warmed up as the doors were closed once all of the Wild West Outlaws Gymkhana participants had arrived.

Before then, however, neither horses nor riders let the cold interior hold them back. Competition went on as usual. This time around there were three events: barrel racing, pole bending, and a third event combining the two into a “Christmas star” pattern.

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Four riders and their horses ended up as double winners. Karter Parker won the 6 & under pole bending competition with a time of 51.8 seconds, and later followed that success up with a first place finish in the Christmas star pattern, posting a time of 58.627 seconds.

Kennedy Kleinlein won the age 7-9 barrels and Christmas star competitions with times of 16.664 and 23.606 seconds respectively.

Tenlee Maycock posted first place finishes in barrels and the Christmas star, with times of 18.064 and 27.351 seconds respectively.

Kendra Huntington won both the pole bending and the Christmas star competitions in the 14-17 age category, with times of  25.553 and 25.226 seconds respectively.

Horses, Riders Adjust

The cold conditions outside and inside the Indoor Arena required some adjusting by both horses and riders. Kennedy Kleinlein, 9, from Rock Springs said that sometimes it is necessary to ride slower while training a horse in frigid weather, maybe a walking speed.

“Otherwise it messes up their lungs,” Kleinlein said.

One of the parents present, Dan Kennedy from Rock Springs, said that like a lot of animals in winter, horses can simply grow more hair on their bodies to keep warm. But that is no perfect solution to everything.

“(Horses) don’t like that cold bit in their mouths,” Kennedy said. “If you had cold metal going in your mouth, you wouldn’t like it either.”

Another parent, Andi Carpenter from McKinnon, said that one of her horses has arthritis and when the weather turns cold that horse feels it a great deal more. “We baby him in winter,” Carpenter said.

Then again, there is always the “whatever will be, will be” approach to handling horses in winter.

“Sometimes (the cold) bothers them, and sometimes it doesn’t,” Gymkhana Queen Brynn Abbott, 15, from Farson said.

It’s All In The Stride

No matter the weather outside or inside, the key to success in barrel racing rests with a horse having the ability to minimize the number of strides required to get around each barrel.

Stephanie Root from Pinedale said that to be successful her horse needs to get around each barrel in no more than five strides and preferably less. After that, Root said her horse needs to turn it and look up.

“I like my horse to get around in three strides,” Megan Matsuura from Rock Springs said, “one entering (the turn), one going around, and one going away (to the next barrel).

Next Gymkhana

The next Wild West Outlaws Gymkhana is scheduled for Saturday, January 21, starting at 10 a.m., with time for practicing beforehand. Additional Gymkhanas are scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, March 19, which is the grand finale for the 2022-2023 Gymkhana season when overall awards will be handed out.

Further information about the Gymkhana series can be obtained by calling organizer Sue Nichols at 350- 2989. The Gymkhanas are open to all ages and abilities.

Results (times in seconds)
Barrel Racing
Ages 6 & under 
Kaisley Kennedy 36.247
Karter Parker 44.280
Wyatt Carpenter 45.302

Ages 7-9
Kennedy Kleinlein 16.644
Sadie Nichols 17.607
Sadie Nichols 19.352

Ages 10-13
Tenlee Maycock 18.064
Madison Coudrain 20.148
Andrew Digrassi 20.913

Ages 14-17
Zoey Robison 16.750
Kendra Huntington 17.023
Zoey Robison 17.833

Ages 18-39
Megan Matsuura 16.740
Stephanie Root 16.869
Cole Tully 17.779

Ages 40 & Up
Patty Bindl 16.313
Mishell Howard 17.214
Patty Bindl 17.760

Pole Bending
Ages 6 & under
Karter Parker 51.80
Wyatt Carpenter 58.427
Kaisley Kennedy 63.327

Ages 7-9
Sadie Nichols 22.374
Eberlee Okarma 24.368
Sadie Nichols 25.629

Ages 10-13
Andrew Digrassi 26.155
Madison Coudrain 28.725
Ashten Folks 33.120

Ages 14-17
Kendra Huntington 25.553
Zoey Robison 26.05
Kyra Folks 27.59

Ages 18-39
Tess Dipiero 26.057
Cole Tully 26.79
Haley Sheller 27.733

Ages 40 & Up
Chris Thomas 26.185
Kimberley Foran 26.401
Mishell Howard 28.205

Christmas Star Event
Ages 6 & under
Karter Parker 58.627
Wyatt Carpenter 79.622
Kaisley Kennedy 87.7

Ages 7-9
Kennedy Kleinlein 23.606
Eberlee Okarma 31.808
Sadie Nichols 32.327

Ages 10-13
Tenlee Maycock 27.351
Andrew Digrassi 31.281
Ashten Folks 31.574

Ages 14-17
Kendra Hungtington 25.226
Kendra Hungtington 25.475
Makinsy Hungtinton 25.529

Ages 18-39
Stephanie Root 26.982
Kaitlyn Duran 27.253
Nakel Philpott 27.513

Ages 40 & up
Kimberly Foran 29.248
Chris Thomas 29.608
Benny Villalobos 30.774