The Fourth Annual Ultimate Cowboy Trail Challenge enjoyed much improved weather this year but sunshine did not diminish the challenging nature of the course.
Horses, mules and donkeys competed in the event put on the weekend of Oct. 8-9 by Linda Laird of the Double L in Bishop and Kris Keeler of JKK Performance out of San Dimas.
Of the top 10 riders, six were locals.
Jay Joseph from Santa Barbara took the championship on his 7-year-old Belgium cross gelding Stout, with a near-perfect ride.
Joseph won $1,000, a hand-crafted photo album, bridle, trophy and the coveted blue ribbon.
“Stout is a great roping horse,” said Joseph. “He loves packing kids, deep water and cookies. As for me, I hate snow and am glad it isn’t here this year.”
Last year’s event was marked by rain on the first day of competition and snow on the second.
The top 10 riders, in order of finish, were: Joseph, Alisha Brown on Be Aech Starlight, David Sutphin on Jake, Tenaya Morelock on Buddy Black, Debbie Humphreys on Mudslide Molly, Tara Baiano on Annie, Kaitlynn Barbieri on Look at Me Go, Tenaya Morelock on Manzanita Rose, Jarid Alpers on Sweet Melissa and Kerri Guthrie on Who’s on Third.
The 30-obstacle course is set up in two rings as well as a connecting dirt road. The obstacles give riders the chance to show their abilities and their horses’ willingness and talent. The obstacles simulate some of the challenges encountered on the trail with some not-so-typical embellishments added.
“We design the course to be challenging and surprising,” said Laird. “But the safety of the horse and rider is important. Rides have the option of passing up anything they do not feel is within their capability.”
Judges Anna Arnold and Laura Hermanson based their scores 70 percent on the animal’s ability and 30 percent on the rider.
The preliminaries were held on Saturday with the top 15 riders advancing to the finals on Sunday where they were greeted with a more difficult course.
Zack Ranch and Dusty’s Pet Shop contributed the gold and silver sponsorships.
“We appreciate Ken Partridge of 3-V Leather for his beautiful awards,” said Laird, “as well as the many sponsors for their gifts and the friends and volunteers who gave their time to support this event.”