The National Reining Horse World Championship, held Sunday, July 17 at the Payson Event Center, featured the best equestrians in the Open Ranch Horse Competition.
Ben Barlow of Prescott took top honors.
"(The entrants) found out they had to step it up a bit with (Barlow) there," competition director Zach Gibbs said.
According to Gibbs, the winning cowboys and cowgirls at the July 17 event improved their point totals over what they scored in the first competition held June 4 and 5 at the event center.
Barlow called upon his considerable expertise to win the open event for the second successive time.
Ivan Stewart, also of Prescott, was second and Payson's Gary Walker and Tim Roberts of Queen Creek tied for third.
Prescott's Mary Fallon won among the cowgirls, out-dueling runner-up Lynn Carbol of Phoenix and bronze medalist Deanna Kristofic of Page.
Gibbs said the day-long competition and the ranch-horse versatility and cattle clinic held the day before were successful.
"We had a good turnout and everything ran smoothly," he said.
In addition to hosting the ranch horse events, Gibbs and his wife Vanessa are owners of Gibbs Performance Horses in Camp Verde.
Throughout the day, judges awarded points to entrants on their performance in reining, cow work, roping and the overall appearance, confirmation and attitude of the horse.
In reining, competitors rode their horse through a pattern in which the rider had to open and close a gate on horseback, take the horse on a trot along a fence in the center of the arena,ope, fast lope and back the horse 15 feet.
In cow work, the rider and horse attempted to box in a cow at the rear of the arena, then drive the cow down the arena and turn the animal back at least one time in each direction.
The roping event called for the entrant to rope a cow and tow it about 15 feet.
The riders were allowed six minutes to complete each event. An unfinished run resulted in zero points.
"(The cowgirl class) is a new concept for Ranch Horse Competitions," Gibbs said. Entrants had to perform most of the same tasks required in the open class. Instead of roping, however, the cowgirls and their steeds were required to corral a cow in a holding pen. Just as in the open class, tasks had to be completed in six minutes.
The third and final ranch horse competition and clinic will be held Aug. 4 and 5 at the Payson Event Center.
Gibbs' wife Vanessa said these opportunities, "Are a chance to improve showmanship, cattle skills and overall horsemanship."
To enter the clinic or competition or for more information, call Zach or Vanessa at (928) 301-1143.