When the end of summer comes around, a number of riders at Hillside Stables turn their sights to the end of November and the upcoming Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance Trail Challenge. They have participated in the SFEA Trail Challenge for several years, but PK Theobald, barn manager says, “We do not focus on trail riding here at Hillside Stables. We do dressage, some jumping and teach a lot of novice western lessons. I myself focus on natural horsemanship training, and consider myself a ring rider. Every year we say that we are going to set up some obstacles in the pasture and practice for this competition.” Each year rolls by and no such luck. Well, this year the riders of Hillside have not only created trail challenge obstacles for practice, but are inviting everyone to come join in the fun at Hillside Stables on October 27th at 2720 Red Banks Rd N, Byhalia, MS.
Michelle McDaniel and Lisa Sikkink began working on a list of obstacles and soon everyone was involved in putting this event together. “Since it will be so close to Halloween, we wanted a Halloween theme for some parts of the Trail Challenge,” says Lisa Sikkink, dressage trainer for Hillside Stables. Ash Ackley came up with an obstacle that mimics trick or treating from horseback and Sarah Jarmon asked about reviving an old Hillside tradition of an equine costume contest. And so the first annual Hillside Stables Trail Challenge Practice & Competition with Equine Costume Contest was born.
The SFEA Trail Challenge does not include practice or an In-Hand class, and as Theobald points out, “That is where we are different. The main focus of our event will be the practice time slots.” Starting at 2:30pm, there will be six 15-minute practice time slots that can be booked. In traditional trail challenge events, each rider only has one chance to go through each obstacle, whereas in the practice sessions, each rider is welcome to work on as many of obstacles as he or she wishes, in the order that they wish during the given practice time. To avoid overcrowding of the obstacles and to keep green horses and riders from being overwhelmed, no more than ten horses will be allowed in a practice session at one time. With at least fifteen obstacles to choose from, riders will have plenty to do. Riders may book as many of the six practice time slots as they wish. Hillside Stables is also offering a discount to riders who pre-register by October 23, online at www.HillsideStables.wordpress.com.
The competition will begin at 4pm. There will be an In-Hand class for those who do not wish to ride the course; Youth and Adult classes are next, followed by an Open class. But what, you may ask, about the Hillside riders? They have prior knowledge of the course and it would not be fair to compete against those trailering in. Hillside riders will have their own In-Hand and mounted classes and compete against each other. Each rider will receive a registration packet that includes a map of the facility noting parking areas, warm up areas, restrooms, etc. as well as a course map of the obstacles. There will be ribbons awarded through fifth place and a prize table from which class winners may select an additional gift.
Gates open at noon on October 27th with a $5.00 gate fee for each vehicle. $5.00 dinner plates will be available at the ‘Hillside Café’. Come for the fun of it or as preparation for the SFEA Trail Challenge scheduled for November 30th at Shelby Farms.
If you are looking for something fun and different to do with your horse and family, consider attending this event. More information and registration forms are available at their web site,www.HillsideStables.wordpress.com. You may also contact the stables directly at 901/857-7500.