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Fri, Feb. 21

'Developing a relationship with your horse is part of the fun'<BR>New barrel racing assn caters to all riders – from newcomers to veterans

Rounding three metal barrels at break-neck speed and racing back down the long stretch of an arena for a first-place award doesn't happen just because you tell your horse "go!"

Preparing a horse for barrel racing involves months of training and practice. Chino Valley resident Ronda Mansor, a horse trainer of many sports – including the initial training of green colts – knows this about the sport of barrel racing.

Review/Laura Flood

Natasha Vacarro of Chino Valley rounds a barrel at the April 20 race.

As a result, she formed the Yavapai County Barrel Racing Association (YCBRA), whose goals are to improve riding and relationship with the horse and to allow children to gain confidence before competing in rodeos and bigger barrel races. The association also serves as a social club for horse aficionados.

"The Yavapai County Barrel Racing Association was formed to help whoever needs it; from children and newcomers, to the veterans," Mansor said.

Indeed, new members range from beginning barrel racers to riders who have competed professionally. As the association's president this first year, Mansor stresses that the association asks all members to set examples of good sportsmanship and horsemanship in and out of the arenas.

The much-needed barrel racing association began last year when Mansor contacted friends about her idea to form an association within the county. They had their first meeting in January, which escalated to their first race on March with 50 members. A race last month, held at the Well's family arena in Chino Valley, drew a good turn out of 30 competitors and a crowd of cheering fans and family members in the bleachers. (See the box on this page for race results.)

"The purpose of the association is to organize well-run events so that the horses and the riders have the best possible chance to improve," Mansor explained.

"A barrel horse needs to be exposed to different arenas, with varied ground before he can be considered a finished horse. Riders need to gain experience running on different soils as well.

"Every arena has its challenges, and horses get used to certain ground types or size of patterns," Mansor said.

The YCBRA seeks approval as a non-profit association, and plans frequent barrel racing clinics and horsemanship clinics.

"There is much more to turning out a good barrel racing horse than speed," Mansor insisted.

"With winter ending, horses need to be put on a proper conditioning program in order to become fit for performing and avoid injuries. Consistency is the key, and the rider needs to have lots of patience. Proper conditioning takes at least eight weeks. During this time the horse is taken around the barrels in an easy, slow pace to begin. A visit from the farrier every six to eight weeks is a must for any performance horse. The veterinarian needs to give the horse a health exam, updating shots, deworming, and teeth flotation when needed to be sure the horse is getting maximum nutrition from properly grinding his feed."

Proper care and training of the barrel horse produces a horse with a good attitude that does not burn out doing the repetition of running around the three barrels, balking or refusing the gate at a race.

"I like to give my horses variety, taking them out on the open range," Mansor said. "I also like to pass that onto children, that training and developing a relationship with your horse is part of the fun."

Another great aspect to the YCBRA is social and the association has plenty of room for new members. Most are from Chino Valley and Paulden so far, although a few come from Skull Valley.

"People are getting to know each other and making new friends," Mansor said.

The association also notes the tremendous support from the community, including Upland Builders, Chino Rentals, Tim's Buick & GMC, American Muffler, Chino Valley Animal Hospital, Equitation Equine Therapy, Vision Quest Training, Soderman Quarter Horses, V7 Ranch, Sally Thomet, Ugly Green Café and Welcome Home Properties.

Goals for the future of the YCBRA include hosting a barrel racing futurity that has national recognition, and that would bring barrel racers throughout the West to Yavapai County for a few days. (There are no plans for YCBRA to compete against other clubs or associations.) Mansor suggested that the visiting barrel racers would be good for area tourism.

"We plan to have events throughout the year for fund-raising, such as poles and team barrels with a Calcutta and a raffle perhaps. We are seeking information on the old fairgrounds in Prescott, as well as other arenas in the county to bring in other racers from around the tri-city area. We hope to have added money for a good showing at our finals and offer a men's barrel race for fun."

The association hopes to have a newsletter one day, when time allows one of the members to work on it. Current YCBRA posts are: Ronda Mansor, president; Rick Narvoson, vice president; Sally Thomet, secretary; Shyan Ingrao, treasurer; and Brenda Collins, arena director.

For information about upcoming events, call Ronda Mansor at 636-3060. The YCBRC meets the 2nd Wednesday of month at the Ugly Green Café, 1150 N. Highway 89 in Chino Valley at 6:30 p.m.

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