Vern Sapergia Reining Clinic in the Chilcotin

Vern and Sharon Gates. Photo by Isabelle Macquarrie

On April 17-18, seven lucky riders from Kelowna, Armstrong, 100 Mile House, Hanceville and Alexis Creek eagerly took advantage of an unexpected opportunity to learn from world renowned reining competitor and coach, Vern Sapergia. Each rider rode three 1 ½ hour slots in the two-day clinic to achieve maximum benefit from Vern’s time-tested program. Outlining a logical, harmonious step-by-step program from warmup to competition strategy, Vern shared his considerable knowledge with clinic participants and spectators alike. Riders and horses refined techniques or corrected problems under Vern’s calm, no-nonsense approach to coaching and training.

Although Vern is not a stranger to B.C., having taught many clinics in the province in the 80s and 90s, he has not been available for clinics for many years because he is living in Austria. He squeezed in the Chilcotin clinic before competing in the CRI competition in Cochrane April 24-25, where he qualified for the World Equestrian Games Canadian Team Selection Finals!

Vern on Running With Wolves demonstrating training for the stop. Photo taken by Crystal Grier

The clinic was hosted by Wildwood Reining Horses near Hanceville, tucked into a wooded area off of highway 20 overlooking the Chilcotin River. Under Douglas fir and sunny skies, participants enjoyed shirt-sleeve weather for both days. Who would have thought that keeping the dust down in an outdoor arena in the Chilcotin in April would be a problem? Thanks to Bella Macquarrie for hose duty! For Sunday lunch, surrounded by horses, everyone roasted wieners and marshmallows on the open fire in the picnic area beside the arena.

Crystal Grier and Jill Imrie. Photo by Sharon Gates

Throughout the weekend, Sharon (and others) kept a watchful eye on her mare, ready to foal at any time. Though everyone hoped the foal would be born during the clinic, Poco Easter Lena waited until after everyone had left. The little sorrel filly, daughter of Running With Wolves (the stallion Vern demonstrated on during the clinic), was born at 2:00 AM with only Sharon in attendance!

Donna Boyce. Photo taken by Sharon Gates

Wildwood Reining Horses will be hosting more Vern Sapergia clinics in the future. Watch for them!

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