The inaugural Open Ranch Horse Competition held June 4 and 5 in the Payson Event Center provided a stage for cowboys and cowgirls from around Arizona to showcase their skills.
"The event went over without a hitch," said Vanessa Gibbs -- of Gibbs Performance Horses, which sponsored the show. "Starting on time, contestants were happy with the organization and the smoothness of the competition."
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 cowboy with the top score was awarded a custom trophy buckle," Gibbs said. "The contestant that held the highest score in all three competitions won a custom trophy saddle."
Ben Balow of Prescott won that championship saddle. Ivan Stewart, also of Prescott, was second. Payson's Gary Walker tied Tim Roberts of Queen Creek for third place.
The cowgirl class, Gibbs said is a new concept for Ranch Horse Competitions. In it, entrants had to perform most of the same tasks required in the open class. Instead of roping, however, the cowgirls and their steeds had to corral a cow in a holding pen. Just as in the open class, tasks had to be completed in six minutes.
Mary Fallon of Prescott won first place, outdueling runner-up Lynn Carbol of Phoenix and Page's Deanna Kristofic.
For her efforts, Fallon received won a custom trophy bit.
Prior to the competition, Gibbs and her husband, Zach, hosted a Ranch Horse and Cattle Clinic also at the event center.
"It was a chance to improve their showmanship, cattle skills and overall horsemanship," Vanessa said.
The competition and clinic were the first of three weekend showdowns the Gibbses will host in PEC. Others will be held July 16-17 and Aug. 4-5.
To enter or for more information, call the Gibbses at (928) 301-1143.