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5:33 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Yavapai College's Chino Valley Agribusiness Center site of horse show

Max Efrein/PNI<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The English riders make their way out of the arena at the Yavapai College Horse Show in Chino Valley as the Western riders begin to filter in.

Max Efrein/PNI<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->The English riders make their way out of the arena at the Yavapai College Horse Show in Chino Valley as the Western riders begin to filter in.

It's been four years since Yavapai College's Chino Valley Agribusiness Center has seen an equine event.

The last one was in 2011 and had focused primarily on children.

"They did what's called a gymkhana back then, which is different from a horse show like this," said Lynne Freeman, the show manager and Equine Sciences Department instructor for Yavapai College. "I'd say this is the first time that a horse show like this has been put on out here."

A gymkhana is an equestrian event consisting of speed pattern racing and timed games for riders on horses, according to Freeman. They often emphasize children's participation.

The event organized by Freeman started with halter and driving competitions first thing in the morning and then continued with English styles followed by Western styles and finished with trail.

Parking and admission for spectators were free and exhibitors were charged $8 per class and $5 per horse.

The all-breed, multi-disciplined show started at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Yavapai College's Chino Valley Agribusiness Center at 2275 Old Home Manor Drive and went until 6 p.m.

"For a first show, this is an awesome, awesome turn out," said Connie Hogan, managing secretary for the show.

By midday, about 35 horses had already been registered by their owners and more were streaming in as the Western competitions started to kick off.

Freeman has been putting on Equistar horse shows at her family farm, Freeman Farms, in Chino Valley, but that operation closed this year due to a disagreement with the town of Chino Valley that started over the construction of a public bathroom.

"We had been putting on seven shows a year," Freeman said.

When that closed, Freeman decided to move her operation to Yavapai College's horse grounds to give the college's equine program some more exposure and to provide a local venue for people to show off their horses. She explained that there is one other show event outside the town limits, but that's it.

"This is the only open all-breed show in Chino Valley now," Freeman said.

Long-time rider Paula Smith was one of the competitors in the show. She hasn't competed in a long time, but she wanted to give it "a one last gung-ho"

"It's good practice," Smith said. "Anything you can do with your horse to get exposed to different things, even if you don't show forever, this is great."

She also values the importance of having local venues to turn to for showing.

"It cuts down on your expenses because you don't have to travel to Phoenix to get this sort of experience and that gets us to participate a little more," Smith said.

Businesses suffer as well when there are no local horse show opportunities to turn to explained Freeman.

"If people don't have somewhere to take their horse and show it and enjoy it, than what's the point of having a horse," Freeman said. "And if people don't have horses, then the farriers don't have jobs, and the feed stores can't sell feed, and the veterinarians for large animals have nothing to work on. It really is a huge impact on the whole economy."

Being the first show, Freeman said this event was sort of a feeler to gauge the interest level. If she gets more people asking for it, she will turn the singular event into a series in the future.

"If more people come out, I can more easily justify it financially with the college," Freeman said. "They went on faith this time and we had to guesstimate how many exhibitors there would be, but obviously it financially has to work for the college too."

To keep up with the horse shows to come, you can turn to the Yavapai College Horse Show community Facebook page.

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105, or 928-642-7864.