The inaugural buckle series barrel racing and pole bending competition June 4 at Payson Event Center drew an enthusiastic group of equestrians from around the Rim country.
"We had a good turnout and everything was on schedule," said event director Charlene Hunt.
Although the new series was well received by most, Hunt is hoping for better participation from the younger set.
"I'd like to see more (competitors) in the 12-years-and-under group," she said. "We only had about 10 contestants."
In that age group, Amber Marshall dominated the proceedings winning both the barrel race (19.87) and the pole bending (23:19).
The highlight of the evening in all age groups might have been the highly competitive barrel racing.
"We had some good times and great rides. I don't think we had a barrel knocked over," Hunt said.
Competitions are slated to continue throughout the summer, at 7 p.m. June 4, 11, 18 and 25. The series continues July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.
The books open at 6 p.m. and entry is $5 per participant for both barrels and pole bending. For those who opt to compete for time only, the fee is $3.
Because the event is town-sponsored, the traditional jackpot format of awarding prize money cannot be held. However, the parks and recreation department has established a budget to provide for prizes at the conclusion of the series.
"Buckles will be given to the winner of both barrel and pole bending in each age group at the final event," Hunt said.
The buckles, which were on display opening night, proved especially appealing to the competitors.
"I think some were just there for the barrel racing but when they saw the buckles, they entered pole bending too," Hunt said. "That gives them another chance at winning one of those nice buckles."
The custom-made buckles were made by Yellowhair designers in Taylor.
At series end, 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 have consolation prizes.
While most horse enthusiasts are familiar with the sport of barrel racing, some might not have attempted pole bending.
Held mostly in gymkhanas and junior rodeos, the event requires riders to weave their horses twice through a series of six poles spaced 21 feet apart.
Like barrel racing, the contestants that record the quickest times are declared winners.
Complete event rules are available at the Green Valley Park P&R offices.
Results from the Payson Parks & Recreation Wednesday night June 4 barrel race/pole bending buckle series are:
12 & Under Barrel Race: 1st, Amber Marshall (19.87); 2nd, Randi Brown (21.92); 3rd, Candace Bullard (23.21); 4th, Emma Randall (26.45); 5th, Amanda Haworth (27.92).
17 & Under Barrel Race: 1st, Ramsey Milam on Chea (18.97); 2nd, Jordynn Runzo (19.31); 3rd, Sami Novak (19.99); 4th, Ramsey Milam on Freddy (20.32; 5th, Jessie Brown.
18 & Over Barrel Race: 1st, Lara Baker (17.83); 2nd, Shelbi Parker (18.94); 3rd, Penny Conway (19.01); 4th, Lori Brown (19.04); 5th, Chancy Brown (19.85).
12 & Under Pole Bending: 1st, Amber Marshall (23.19); 2nd, Candace Bullard (27.47); 3rd, Randi Brown (28.39); 4th, Emma Randall (31.74); 5th, Destiny Wagenknecht (38.96).
17 and Under Pole Bending: 1st, Ramsey Milam (22.34); 2nd, Jordynn Runzo (23.70); 3rd, Tiffany Klemstine (26.54); 4th, Amanda Howard (27.02); 5th, KC Waterman (28.49).
18 & Over Pole Bending: 1st, Shelbi Parker (20.92); 2nd, Margaret Parker (24.91); 3rd, April Barner (28.69; 4th, Lori Brown (28.87); 5th, Robin Morris (29.24).
The barrel/pole bending series will continue every Wednesday night through July 30th. Gates open at 5:30 with entries being accepted at 6 p.m. The barrel race starts promptly at 7 p.m. followed by pole bending.
For further information, contact the parks and recreation office at 474-5242 ext. 7.