HONORA BAY—The Honora Bay Riding Stable hosted the inaugural Northern Ontario Obstacle Challenge this past weekend.
“I saw challenges like this when I was down in Florida working and thought it would be great to do here in Northern Ontario,” said Honora Bay Riding Stable owner Kyla Jansen. “It is all very technical, controlling each of the horse’s body parts. It’s all about how in control the rider is.”
The challenge brought out 15 participants from across the North.
“We originally had different categories, but all the participants who signed up were novice,” explained Ms. Jansen.
Participants had one minute to attempt each obstacle and an additional three minutes to complete the obstacle.
“We have two judges, one for both the rider and the horse,” said Ms. Jansen. “The judges are Cassie Michel and Tara Sewers. They individually grade each obstacle, both the horse and the rider, and the grades are combined for a total score.”
The obstacles including flying a Canadian flag as the team (horse and rider) make its way around an obstacle, stepping over a large spider made of plastic pipes, walking through pool noodles, placing all four feet into a kiddy pool, walking backwards and frontwards through a hay bail mini maze, going over a large teeter totter, walking through a tarp, walking onto a platform filled with water bottles, walking through a cloth waterfall, dragging a tire, standing facing a cap gun that is being shot into the air and opening and closing a gate.
“All these activities mimic things that could occur on a trail ride—a branch snapping unexpectedly, animals jumping out of the bush, difficult terrain,” Ms. Jansen said. “Not only is it fun, but it strengthens trust and confidence in both the rider and the horse and helps desensitize the horse.”
“I Am pleased to say everyone stayed securely on their horses,” Ms. Jansen told The Expositor following the challenge. “Only one rider was able to complete the bonus obstacle (the horse stepping onto a large tire with all four feet and staying on top of it for 10 seconds), Hailey Leblanc, achieving 10 bonus points. Emily Patterson on Shai placed first, followed by Hailey Leblanc on Arrow in second and Zoe Couillardon on Stormy in third.”
“We hope to make this an annual event and look forward to next year,” concluded Ms. Jansen.