May 29, 2011
AQHA versatility ranch horse competition has officially arrived in South America!
The very first event was held May 25 at Laurencio Leal Lobo’s training facility, Haras Los Rayos, in Urdinarrain, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The date happened to coincide with Argentina’s Independence Day.
Ten horse and rider teams competed – four in the amateur and six in the open. Alvaro Lucena, president of Argentina’s Quarter Horse Association, or Criadores Argentinos de Caballos Cuarto de Milla, won the amateur with his SM Quixotes Surprise (by Nicnac Enterprise Jr). Facundo Romero won the open on Estancias Graciarena S.A.’s CKW Scorpion (by Billy Dixon).
“This is the competition for my country,” Alvaro Lucena said after the awards ceremony. Alvaro was part of a group of American Quarter Horse breeders and competitors from Argentina and Uruguay who attended the 2011 Pfizer AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championship Show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
“Last year, when I was elected president (of CACCM), I thought where should our association go, in what direction?” Alvaro continued. “I thought we needed to build our amateur classes… and we needed something to put cattle into our AQHA competition. When I saw the (Pfizer Versatility World), I said this is for us.”
For the past four years, AQHA judge Dr. Jim Heird has brought annual colt-starting clinics to South America, sponsored in part by the American Quarter Horse Foundation. Following the Pfizer Versatility World, Alvaro Lucena and Alvaro Martinicorena of the Uruguayan Quarter Horse Association (Sociedad Criadores Cuarto de Milla) aimed to focus the 2011 clinics on the versatility ranch class.
The competition in Urdinarrain was held after a two-day clinic given by versatility ranch horse world champion Chance O’Neal of the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, and Dr. Heird’s team from Texas A&M University’s Equine Initiative.
More than 40 people attended with approximately 15 riding. The clinic covered the rules and horsemanship in each of the five versatility classes – ranch trail, ranch riding, ranch cutting, working ranch horse and ranch horse conformation – and gave each rider one-on-one coaching time with Chance.
The riders’ enthusiasm was infectious. When competition time came, half the fun was watching some of the riders meet personal clinic goals. Everyone cheered as Barbara Reilly – the lone woman in the competition – made her lead changes and when Renzo Orono roped and caught his cow.
The event is a natural fit for countries like Uruguay and Argentina that have a rich tradition of raising cattle using the skills of horseback gauchos – a South American parallel to the cowboy of the North American West.
“It’s an event that improves horsemanship and encourages friendships more than anything,” Dr. Heird said as he presented the awards in the main barn at Haras Los Rayos. “It was an honor to be the first to judge a Quarter Horse show in South America, and it is an honor to be here to judge the first versatility ranch Quarter Horse show in South America.”
More versatility ranch horse events are in the works for Argentina. With three German riders having competed at the 2011 Pfizer Versatility World – the event’s first international entries – Argentina is aiming to have the first from South America. Watch out, cowboys, the gauchos are coming!
Scroll down for the Journal slide show from the historic event. (Click on the image for the captions).
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