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UPHA Chapter 17 Horsemanship Finals

The Georgia UPHA Chapter 17 held it's second annual Horsemanship Finals on Sunday, November 9, 2008 in Nichols, GA at the Wiregrass Arena also known as the South Georgia Youth Park. The honorable David Sands of Daisy, GA judged this event.  It was a lovely and sunny yet chilly 43-degree morning. This facility is a state of the art covered arena with 90 permanent stalls. It has plenty of parking for both spectators and exhibitors. Only 3 and 1/2 hours south of Atlanta, it is a convenient 1 an 1/2 hour from Savannah.

The first Horsemanship Final was held in 2007 in Perry, GA during the Georgia National Fair. It will be moved to different locations annually in order to be accessible to all eligible riders in the large state of Georgia.

This Horsemanship Finals is designed to promote Saddle Seat riding and sportsmanship in a competition atmosphere for riders in the Southeast. Several trainers inspired the concept of such an event, Christy Parker of Pine Haven Stables in Brunswick, GA and Chan Sutton of Oak Lane Farm in Thalman, Ga.

The format of this event was chosen to showcase the rider's ability. This competition is open to all advanced riders ages 13 and up who are non-professional members of UPHA. Members of UPHA Chapter 17 provided suitable lesson type horses. The horses could wear a show or work bridle. This event was considered a "special event" and therefore academy riders were eligible if they were advanced riders capable of handling various horses.

Each rider drew an unknown horse from a hat of lesson horses provided by the UPHA trainers. If that rider picked a horse that he or she had previously ridden they had to choose another. Each trainer that brought a horse was responsible for instructing the unknown student on his or her horse. Each participant wore a T-shirt donated by Chapter 17, a helmet and jods. As each rider entered the ring, they all looked alike in dress and were all on the same playing field with their unknown mounts. The trainers were asked to judge their unknown riders on the horses they provided, as they knew the level of difficulty of their horses. The scores of the trainers were combined with those of the judge’s to determine the winners as well as the top 10 riders.

The competition began at 10:00A.M.with two sections of groups doing rail work. After a lunch break provided by Pine Haven Stables. The riders drew another new horse to finish their final routine on the rail. The judge and trainers decided the top ten riders to be Katie Pearson, Katie Boysen, Caroline Boyd, Dianna Cox, Kay Henderson, Alyssa Allen, Samantha Hocking, Rachel Rafolski, and Shelby Reimer. After the final round the judge awarded first place to Shelby Reimer and a closely contested second to Rachel Rafolski. The competition concluded around 2:30PM that afternoon.

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