Trimble County Saddle Club

Saddle Club still strong after 30 years

Trail rides, barrel competition keeps riders busy

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

BEDFORD, Ky. (December 2003) – Kentucky has long been known as horse country. The bluegrass state is home to the world’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, and boasts some of the world’s finest horse farms.
The state’s tradition of equine fancy has spawned many clubs centered around horse-related activities. The Trimble County Saddle Club is one example.

Trimble horse1

Photo by Doug Cheek

A member of the Trimble County Saddle
Club competes at the Trimble Park.

In existence for more than 30 years, the club brings together horse lovers for a little fun and competition. The club’s activities include shows where events like barrel racing, pole bending and flag racing test the skill and stamina of both horse and rider.
Former ferrier Mike Stephens of Hanover, Ind., has been a member of the club off and on since 1970 and served as its president at one time. Stephens said that during the club’s April to October season, he is busy almost every weekend attending horse shows.
“It’s something that kind of gets in your system,” he admitted. One of Stephen’s favorite events, and currently one of the most popular, is barrel racing.
Barrel racing, often seen at rodeos, is a fast-paced competition where contestants weave a pattern around barrels that are strategically placed inside an arena. The key to the race is completing the pattern as quickly as possible without upsetting any of the barrels. A typical barrel race will draw 90 to 150 horses and riders, according to Stephens. “It’s a big sport, and it’s growing,” he said.
Like barrel racing, pole bending, or pole weaving as it is also called, and flag racing are timed events that require agility and speed. In pole bending, the horse and rider run a serpentine pattern through a series of poles that are the same height, usually six feet, and that are placed in a row the same distance apart, typically 21 feet. Knocking down poles or breaking the pattern results in a penalty.

Trimble Saddle Club2

Photo by Doug Cheek

A rider takes a barrel at the Trimble
County Saddle Club competition.

flag racing, two barrels are placed at each end of the arena. On each barrel is a bucket of sand. The object of the game is for the rider to grab a flag pole from the first bucket and place it in the second bucket, passing as closely to the barrel as possible without knocking it over. As with pole bending and barrel racing, the best successful time wins.
Barrel racing, flag racing and pole bending are just three of many competitions that involve horses. Cross country and hunter trials, show jumping and dressage are also popular and often involve separate shows.
A big part of being competitive in events like barrel racing is having a well-trained horse, according to Stephens. Stephens, who owns four horses, said it usually takes a couple of years to train a horse to compete.
Quarter horses are the breed seen most often in competition.
The Trimble County club typically plays host to pole bending, flag racing and barrel racing at their events, which are held at the Trimble County Recreational Facility located on Hwy. 421 between Milton and Bedford. The public is welcome to attend and participate in the club’s events. Members compete with each other for points, and at the end of the season, saddles are awarded to the points leaders in both the youth and adult categories.
Eddie Dunlap of Bedford is the current president of the saddle club, which is currently more than 100 members strong. The family-oriented organization is open to new members and is a good way for horse enthusiasts of all ages to make friends and enjoy the sport. Annual dues are $10 per family or individual.



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