With two events remaining in the inaugural buckle series of barrel racing and pole bending, equestrians are locked in a nip-and-tuck battle for top honors.
"It is a horse race for points in some of the placings," event founder Charlene Hunt said.
Hunt is predicting that some of the age-group winners might not be determined until the final night of competition July 30.
"It will boil down to who has the cleanest runs," she said.
In the standings, all participants are awarded points for entering. Bonus points in each age group are then doled out for good showings in the runs.
The top point producer through the July 9 event is Amber Marshall, who has ridden her horse A.J. to 36 points in the 12-and-under division.
When Hunt organized the series last spring, she was not sure how well it would be received in the Rim country. Since the inception of the series June 4, it has grown in popularity.
"At this first series we had 23 (entrants), on July 9 we had 53," Hunt said.
The greatest growth has been in the 12-and-under age group that had just six participants at the first series.
"It grew to 20 last week," Hunt said. "It is making for a longer night, but everyone is sticking around."
With the series set to wrap up at the end of this month, Hunt is setting her sights on next summer's events.
"I'm am looking forward to planning next year's series and will be seeking input from the competitors as to what they would like to see changed and improved," she said.
Because the event is town-sponsored, the jackpot format of awarding prize money normally associated with such events cannot be held. Instead, the P&R department will award prizes at the conclusion of the series.
"Buckles will be given at the final event to the winners of both barrels and pole bending," Hunt said. "Other awards will be given for second through fifth places."
For those who participate in all nine of the events but do not place in the top-five, Hunt will award consolation prizes.
For those unfamiliar with the sport of pole bending, Hunt explains it as an event that requires riders to weave their horses through a series of six poles spaced 21 feet apart. As in barrel racing, the contestants with the quickest times are declared winners.
The standings through July 9:
Barrels (12 & Under)
1. Amber Marshall, 36 points
2. Randi Brown, 25 points
3. Amanda Haworth, 16 points
4. Candace Bullard/Emma Randall tied for 4th with 14 points
5. Cierra Tidwell, 9 points
6. Destiny Wagenknecht, 6 points
1. Amber Marshall, 31 points
2. Randi Brown, 24 points
3. Candace Bullard, 18 points
4. Emma Randall, 16 points
5. Cierra Tidwell/Kelsey Tidwell/Taylor Randall tied at 9 points
6. Destiny Wagenknecht, 7 points
Barrels (17 and Under)
1 Jordynn Runzo, 28 points
2. Ramsey Milam , 26 points
3. Sami Novak, 12 points
4. Breiann Miller, 11 points
5. KC Waterman/Jamie Ewing, tied with 9 points
6. Anna Noe, 8 points
1. Jordynn Runzo, 27 points
2. Ramsey Milam, 20 points
3. KC Waterman, 18 points
4. Tiffany Klemstine, 11 points
5. Lindi Parker, 9 points
6. Jamie Ewing/Breiann Miller, 8 points
Barrels (18 and Over)
1. Shelby Parker, 33 points
2. Margaret Parker, 18 points
3. Amy Willis, 14 points
4. Joanna Lee, 12 points
5. Paula Waterman/Lara Baker, 10 points
6. Lori Brown, 8 points
1. Shelby Parker, 32 points
2. Lara Baker, 19 points
3. Joanna Lee, 17 points
4. Margaret Parker, 14 points
5. Amy Willis/Paula Waterman, 10 points
6. April Barner, 9 points