Equestrian Group hosts Introduction to Working Equitation


Lexi Kim offers Orion Roberts a few words of advice on handling the reigns of her 20-year old Fjord, Lady.  Working Equitation is known for fostering an atmosphere where all knowledge – at every level of skill aquired – is witnessed being shared forward inside the arena. Photo by Stacy Bender, The Montanian.

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In the Spring of 2019, Sarah Hogan of Libby and her quarterhose, BridJet, found themselves swept into the percussive stride of WE while attending a clinic in Kalispell. After learning more about the working purpose behind every movement BridJet was asked to execute, Hogan said of the experience, “I was instantly drawn to seek further mastery of the sport.”
Hogan remained involved with WE through both clinics and trials for the duration of the summer. By Fall of 2019 she found herself speaking directly with Master Clinician, Trisha Reed, and plans to bring a WE clinic to the Granite Creek Arena in Libby were solidified. Unfortunately, following the onset of the COVID-19 virus and due to travel restrictions and suggested health guidelines being defined across the state, that clinic was postponed in April of 2020 and ultimately cancelled.
Hogan, however, remained determined to introduce WE to Libby residents in some form and pushed forward with her original efforts at the helm. Fellow KVRC (Kootenai Valley Roping Club) Equestrian Group member, Jessica Brown, then helped to whittle down the originally scheduled 3-day clinic and design instead an informal introduction to WE.  “Our main goal was to provide something fun in this area. We wanted to give each horse and rider pair an opportunity to explore and expand upon their relationships while learning about working equitation,” Hogan said in a follow-up interview. “No matter the level of skill they came with, each left with something learned, something to work on, and something they did well as a working team.”
The former roping arena had been dressed with carefully spaced orange cones and utilized for Dressage Trial work where riders would learn, teach, and test the ability of their horse to execute willing and graceful movement.  Activity then drifted to a series of obstacles just above the arena where working trials unfolded. “I have learned the importance of cross-training,” said one handler, noting how the benefits of the controlled work they had discovered would now need consistent application when returning to their everyday routines.
While reflecting back on additional praises received, Hogan shared, “We are just thrilled that everyone left the day expressing their excitement and desire to learn more about working equitation. We plan to keep several of our obstacles available for people to school with going forward.”
During a KVRC gathering held on Wednesday, August 12, a slalom course (now marked by rocks), figure eight w/tires, gate, bridge, jump, trilogy of barrels, and a bell obstacle were revisited.  Each have now been officially stationed for public use over the remainder of this riding season.

With the recent activity, a growing interest in the revitalization of the Granite Creek Arena and its surrounding area has also been affirmed. “Having access to this smaller arena here in Lincoln County is an asset we hope to further restore and preserve in the months and years to come,” Hogan stated.  “The benefits of working free from traffic and other heightened activity can be crucial for young and novice riders seeking an opportunity to improve their horsemanship skills, but are also invaluable to many skilled riders for a multitude of reasons.”
Lincoln County is home to equestrians of all backgrounds: Backcountry Riders, Trail/Hunting Teams, Rodeo Athletes, English Riders, Saddle Club Competitors and more.  KVRC, while originally founded as a saddling club, has since evolved and in 2010 shifted towards an all-inclusive structure which now welcomes all equestrians seeking the beneficial opportunities and fellowship found while working in and around an arena.
This recent event, although later in the season than planned, has ignited the growing efforts to foster more activity at the public arena and provide relevant opportunities for Lincoln County equestrians of all backgrounds.  Much like the world of working equitation, the vision for the Granite Creek Arena is infinite in its realm of possibility.
Efforts to move forward with the revitalization of both the KVRC Equestrian Group and the Granite Creek Arena will be addressed during a KVRC Equestrian Group meeting to be held arena on Wednesday, August 26, at 6 p.m.  All those seeking opportunity to connect and learn more are invited to attend.
This meeting will focus on identifying arena improvements needed to ensure horse and rider safety, installing a board of officers via official election, and opening discussion on further fostering group activities for the future.
For further information on how to become involved with the KVRC Equestrian Group and/or the revitalization of the Granite Creek Arena, please contact Sarah at 293-0899.

By Stacy Bender, The Montanian