TAMWORTH’S grip on the title of the equine capital is even tighter after another successful weekend of horse sports.
Throughout last week the Reining Australian Futurity Championships were well underway at AELEC and on Saturday events reached full tilt.
More than 50 riders took to the arena, jumping on their trusty steeds and riding at pace in figures of eight over the length of AELEC in something that can only be described as doing burn outs on a horse.
The western horse sport requires a rider to guide his or her horse through a precise pattern of circles, spins, and stops at lope – a slow canter or a gallop – which requires the horse to be responsive and in tune with its rider.
Judges award points based on the horse’s ability to perform a set pattern of movements and there were some serious movements going on.
Up the hill in Moonbi the NSW Team Penning Championships were well underway too.
They began on Saturday and continued well into yesterday afternoon.
More than 500 competitors and an estimated 200-strong support crew flocked to the Moonbi
Recreation Ground to contest the titles of NSW Team Penning Champions.
For those who don’t know, teams of three riders try to secure the title by entering the arena where they come up against about 30 head of cattle with different collars on and have to work within a 90-second time limit to pen the coloured beasts inseparate yards.
Members of the Tamworth and District Team Penning Association said this year the event, and another – arena sorting – had reached new heights.
President Brian Penrose said due to increasing popularity of the sports the Tamworth association had recently issued its 1200th membership.
“There are also a number of new clubs in the New England, Tamworth, Manilla and the Upper Hunter, which is a good sign” he said.
Mr Penrose said the event welcomed a number of competitors from across the state this year.
“This firmly cements Tamworth and the region as the capital for team penning,” he said
AELEC’s venue manager, Mike Rowland, said horse sports were proving ever popular.
This year ALEC alone has also played host to a series of different showjumping championships, cross country eventing, rodeo and horseball competitions.
He said traditionally horse sports ran from February to June.
“Due to the increasing popularity of them in our area we are seeing the calendar stretch out simply because more and more events are coming on board not just at venues like AELEC but at outdoor venues to cater for the demand,” he said.