Part 4: Reasons to Love the Unique Challenge of Cowboy Racing
by Brent Rollins
If you have been following my articles so far, I have focused on introducing you to important elements of The Extreme Cowboy Race. This includes experiences from my very first race through all the ones I have seen and learned from while working for Craig Cameron. For the last article in this series, I will compare the race to other obstacle challenges, and why I enjoy the race so much.
To give you an idea of the difference between the races and, say, a trail class is like comparing golf to baseball. Even though both are an equine sport and both have many different obstacles, the race is a little more high octane and a wider variety of obstacles that challenge the relationship of you and your horse. Whether riding or watching, the extreme race is edge-of-your-seat fun. Of course there is nothing wrong with a trail class or challenge; it is actually good practice before a race because it is not timed, allowing you to focus on accuracy.
One of the things that I really like about the extreme race is the breathless moments when a rider approaches a difficult obstacle. These include things like the water cup challenge where there are two cups of water perched on two cones set on barrels close together. The object is to pass between the barrels without spilling the cups. How a rider crosses is individual—you can even pull up your feet and stirrups to go through. This makes the entire crowd hold their breath and when someone completes the challenge without spilling a drop everyone goes nuts! There really isn’t anything with that kind of excitement during a trail or obstacle challenge.
I have been in many trail classes and obstacle challenges and one thing stands out about The Extreme Cowboy Race: its unique tension and pressure. That knot in your stomach before you race is what I like; it is also something that is good for an equestrian. If you never leave your comfort zone, or push yourself, you won’t improve. Remember, diamonds are made from pressure. That is something I have noticed that the race does for people. I have seen mediocre riders turn into fierce competitors because healthy tension and pressure drove them to new levels and made them try even harder. I love seeing new competitors after a few races. Those looks of fear and insecurity—nerves shot all to heck—completely change into smiles.
The EXCA has become a well-oiled machine with a point system; if you work hard enough you can make it to the world finals. This kind of ultimate goal is what makes the race special, when compared to other competitive venues. This allows some riders (who want to go professional) to make a name for themselves. The opportunity to join an organization like the EXCA and become part of something larger than just a weekend trail show is just another way it can be appealing to everyone.
Yet another reason to love The Extreme Cowboy Race is that it accepts all breeds of horses and judges them exclusively on speed and horsemanship. This fact definitely makes me an extreme racing fan. I have seen almost every breed compete from mules, drafts, Fiords, warm bloods, Thoroughbreds, and many gaited horses. To see different breeds compete against each other like this in one event makes the race truly a one-of-a-kind sport. Regardless of the kind of horse in your barn, there is a place for you in The Extreme Cowboy Race.
If you are worried about your skill, remember there are divisions for all levels. They include youngsters just starting, novice to beginner adult riders who haven’t competed, intermediate riders who want to improve and have some fun, and grizzled professionals who want to push themselves to the max against other skilled riders. There are such divisions in other competitive events, but the race itself is what creates so much fun and challenge. So, don’t worry. Hook up that trailer, get yourself to the next race and see for yourself. I hope I have encouraged a few “on the fence” readers to give The Extreme Cowboy Race a try.
Happy trails and see you at the next Extreme Cowboy Race!