This rider with the Alberta Provincial Gymkhana Association navigates poles during a pole bending challenge Sept. 13. This was the first time the group hosted an event at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.

This rider with the Alberta Provincial Gymkhana Association navigates poles during a pole bending challenge Sept. 13. This was the first time the group hosted an event at the Calnash Ag Event Centre.

Equestrian gymkhana group enjoys first Ponoka show

The Alberta Provincial Gymkhana Association (APGA) finally managed to book a spot at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

The Alberta Provincial Gymkhana Association (APGA) finally managed to book a spot at the Calnash Ag Event Centre last weekend after trying for two years and made it a fun weekend for all competitors.

Lorelei McLeod, president of the APGA, says their focus is on giving the entire family a chance to be together and compete in different equestrian sports. Competitors as young as three years old can try their skills in pole bending, barrel racing, stake racing, flag picking and a challenge called keyhole where competitors must follow a pattern without crossing pre-marked lines.

“We have parents riding with their grandkids,” explained McLeod.

She says many of the challenges members face are a way to hone horses’ and riders’ skills because competitors can use only one horse throughout the weekend.

Competitor Ashley McLeod says using one horse is a fun challenge. “Your horse needs to be a little more athletic,” said Ashley.

“There a lot bigger bond between me and the horse,” added McLeod.

Most members ride quarter horses but McLeod says there are some who have thoroughbreds crossed with quarter horses. She recommends anyone interested in becoming a member come to an event and see how the association events work.

“We’re competitive but it’s not all about the competition,” she said.

McLeod says their members are usually found in central and northern Alberta and everyone treats each other like a big family.