Scores of horses and their riders, along with numerous fans of equestrian competition, descended on Whidbey Island July 10 through July 12 for the 33rd annual Whidbey Island Pony Club’s Horse Trial competition at the club’s arena on Zlystra Road.
The three-day event was divided into three segments, that covered nearly all facets of horsemanship.
Friday’s competition involved dressage, which is a French term translated to mean training. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform.
The competition involves basic walk/trot tests, and the horse and rider are scored from 0 to 10 points.
In addition to marks given for horse movements, marks are also awarded for other attributes such as the horse’s gaits, submission, impulsion and the rider’s performance.
On Saturday, competitors rode the cross country course that covered 2,250 meters and involved 29 total efforts at jumping fences of various heights and distances.
Gary Whitcomb of Langley, who was one of the starting timers for the cross country event, said jump number 9 in the competition was difficult and involved four fences.
“They are marked A, B, C and D and present quite a test,” he said. “Timing is important and the rider has to have the horse under control to successfully clear all four fences.”
Assisted by Bond Owens from Bow, Whitcomb was making sure the cross country riders left the starting gate at the proper time as this part of the competition involved total elapsed time on the course in addition to point deductions for fences knocked down as part of the overall score.
Sunday’s portion involved stadium jumping, an event most people associate with equestrian competition, where horses make spectacular jumps over fences of various heights while being timed.
The next event for members of the Whidbey Island Pony Club is the Aspen Farms Horse Trials scheduled for Sept. 4 through Sept. 6 in Yelm.