BEDFORD, Ky. (December 2003) Kentucky has long been known
as horse country. The bluegrass state is home to the worlds
most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, and boasts some of the
worlds finest horse farms.
The states tradition of equine fancy has spawned many clubs
centered around horse-related activities. The Trimble County Saddle
Club is one example.
by Doug Cheek
member of the Trimble County Saddle
Club competes at the Trimble Park.
In existence for more than 30 years, the club brings together horse
lovers for a little fun and competition. The clubs activities
include shows where events like barrel racing, pole bending and flag
racing test the skill and stamina of both horse and rider.
Former ferrier Mike Stephens of Hanover, Ind., has been a member of
the club off and on since 1970 and served as its president at one
time. Stephens said that during the clubs April to October season,
he is busy almost every weekend attending horse shows.
Its something that kind of gets in your system,
he admitted. One of Stephens favorite events, and currently
one of the most popular, is barrel racing.
Barrel racing, often seen at rodeos, is a fast-paced competition where
contestants weave a pattern around barrels that are strategically
placed inside an arena. The key to the race is completing the pattern
as quickly as possible without upsetting any of the barrels. A typical
barrel race will draw 90 to 150 horses and riders, according to Stephens.
Its a big sport, and its growing, he said.
Like barrel racing, pole bending, or pole weaving as it is also called,
and flag racing are timed events that require agility and speed. In
pole bending, the horse and rider run a serpentine pattern through
a series of poles that are the same height, usually six feet, and
that are placed in a row the same distance apart, typically 21 feet.
Knocking down poles or breaking the pattern results in a penalty.
by Doug Cheek
rider takes a barrel at the Trimble
County Saddle Club competition.
flag racing, two barrels are placed at each end of the arena. On
each barrel is a bucket of sand. The object of the game is for the
rider to grab a flag pole from the first bucket and place it in the
second bucket, passing as closely to the barrel as possible without
knocking it over. As with pole bending and barrel racing, the best
successful time wins.
Barrel racing, flag racing and pole bending are just three of many
competitions that involve horses. Cross country and hunter trials,
show jumping and dressage are also popular and often involve separate
A big part of being competitive in events like barrel racing is having
a well-trained horse, according to Stephens. Stephens, who owns four
horses, said it usually takes a couple of years to train a horse to
Quarter horses are the breed seen most often in competition.
The Trimble County club typically plays host to pole bending, flag
racing and barrel racing at their events, which are held at the Trimble
County Recreational Facility located on Hwy. 421 between Milton and
Bedford. The public is welcome to attend and participate in the clubs
events. Members compete with each other for points, and at the end
of the season, saddles are awarded to the points leaders in both the
youth and adult categories.
Eddie Dunlap of Bedford is the current president of the saddle club,
which is currently more than 100 members strong. The family-oriented
organization is open to new members and is a good way for horse enthusiasts
of all ages to make friends and enjoy the sport. Annual dues are $10
per family or individual.