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Pony Express rides again at the annual versatility challenge

The Pony Express rode again at the annual versatility challenge at Gelinas Farm July 7.
The farm hosts a competition with a different theme on the first Sunday of each July. The event has become a local favorite.

"It's a lot of the same people but then, new people come too," said Joanne Gelinas-Snow.
The atmosphere is more laid back than a horse show, Gelinas-Snow said. A sense of community has developed among the participants.

"They've all become good friends. Everybody knows everybody," Gelinas-Snow said. "It's a chance to come together and have a good time."

In keeping with the Pony Express theme riders grabbed a bag of mail at the beginning of the course and delivered as they galloped through 12 obstacles including a jump and teeter-totter bridge. Competitors led their horses backwards through cones, side passes, log dragging, and asked them to wait while they wet their whistle at a makeshift saloon.

Calls of "very nice" and cheers for good jumps were heard as riders made their way through the course.

Competitors were scored on each obstacle on a timed course. They were not allowed to see the course before the walk through on the morning of the competition, and no one practiced it before their run. The best scores went to riders who showed good technique while making it through the course in the least amount of time.

Matt Cafasso and his horse Bobby took first place in the general division.
"We had a good run. It was nice," Cafasso said.

Cafasso trains Bobby for ranch versatility and can perform any ranch task including cattle work, trail courses and reigning. Applying those skills helped them in the competition, Cafasso said.
Taking the top spot was secondary to bringing Bobby out and putting him through his paces.
"The prize is you feel good about your run and no one gets hurt," Cafasso said.

Second place went to Lee Darling and his horse, Sara.
"We have a ball," Darling said. "It's a lot of fun."

Darling rides about four times a week and is always working on skills, like log jumping, that may be part of the competition. No one sees the ring before the walk through so riders try to prepare for everything.

"When you practice at home you try to envision what types of things they're going to put out here," Darling said.

It was the first rodeo for Kathleen Robbins, who placed fourth in the green division with her horse Toblerone.

"Toblerone gets bored really easy and I just thought it would be fun for him to do something different," Robbins said.

First place in the green division was awarded to Julie Guerrette, who's been practicing with her horse, Rascal, all year. She thought it would be a nice challenge for the pair, and was excited to try new things with a great group of people, Guerrette said. She hasn't lost sight of what's important.

"It's always about the horsemanship, always," Guerrette said.

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