Kylie Whiteside

Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals

It’s all about the trinkets! Talyn Kapfhamer, winner of the 3D at the ABRA Finals.

As the summer begins to wind down, there is one major barrel racing event to compete at – the Alberta Barrel Racing Association Finals. The Finals are held in Ponoka, at the newer Ag Events Center.

Amazing building.

Over the weekend, that arena hosted roughly 2,000 barrel runs over the course of four days. Thank you to all the sponsors who donated prizes. Truly appreciated by everyone!

I must say, there are a ton of barrel racers in Alberta. I qualified on both of my two horses, my niece also qualified on a horse of mine. We headed up to Ponoka on Wednesday afternoon, as the Open Barrel Race started at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. This event is definately one of the more organized, and well run events I have ever been to, and kudos to all of those that make it happen. Everybody gets two runs, and then based on either the average, or a fast time, qualification for the Short Go Sunday.

I am highly impressed with the quality of horses we have here in Alberta, and I think we must all be proud for what we have. I ran both of my guys on Thursday, they ran great. Captain pulled off an outstanding 17.49, and Cat a 17.59, which both took us to the pay window. Day 2, they began with the youth, and my niece was up on my horse, Taco. Together they ran a beautiful pattern of 17.88 and hit the pay window as well. I saw another old horse of ours, who ran a 17.67 and looked amazing, and I am happy to see that the owners are doing great with him. Come Sunday, all four of our Stampede Ranch (TS) Horses had qualified for the Sunday Short Go, in the top end, and I can say I am very blessed and proud to be riding, and seeing our horses out there.

One of the winners was probably the most excited little girl I have ever seen. Her name is Talyn Kapfhamer, and she was the winner of the 3D. As she went up to receive her buckle, saddle and all her little trinkets she had won, she was no bigger than the saddle she had won. I had to get her picture! I absolutley love seeing that kind of excitement from a winner. And she will continue to win, because she appreciates it. Good work Talyn!

On the Saturday, I had a bit of down time, so I thought I would get my horses out of the pen for a walk. Earlier that day someone had told me about the river being nearby. I thought, well, it is 30°C out here, and I know they would love to go cool down and splash around in the water. So I am rode Captain, and ponyed Taco and Cat. We spotted the river, and the one kilometer road parallel to a set of train tracks, which we needed to travel down to reach it.

We arrived at the river, and overhead was the train bridge. I led everyone into the river to splash and play. In the distance, I heard something. I thought it might be a train. I glanced up at the bridge which was almost directly over us, and thought, “I better get outta here.”

The train sounded fairly far off still. I got my horses turned around, and we are heading up out of the water, and suddenly it appeared, coming at us head on, loud, and directly over top of us. Cat leapt backwards, jerking me his way, but I didn’t let go. He pulled again, I tried my hardest to hang on, but lost the rope. There was a moment of stillness, my heart dropped. He stood staring at the overhead thundering train for a second or two, and then the fear and flight set in, and he bolted, up out of the water, and into the trees.

Meanwhile, Taco in my left hand, pulled back, and almost jerked me out the other side of my saddle. Captain was doing everything he could to stay calm and upright what with getting pulled all over the place. Through the rope burn, blood and mud, I managed to hang onto Taco. I knew I couldn’t let two go. I rode up to a flat spot, the train continued on, and in my mind, I feared the horrific things that could happen.

I panicked. I didn’t know what to do but I needed to find Cat. Every morning when I feed my horses, I call them by name. And they come. As the train roared by, I started screaming, “Cat!….CAT!”

And, ….he came back. From out of the trees, I saw this scared little horse running up to us. He came to me, put his head almost in my lap in the saddle, and let me grab his halter. We were all safe.

I rode back to the trailer, shaken, and sick over what we had just experienced. It makes a tipped barrel, or anything negative look like nothing at all. Things like that are always a reality check. We must all count our blessings, daily. And give our horses the credit they deserve for knowing who they love and trust.

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