Equestrians Compete at Summer Classic in Fayetteville
The Northwest Arkansas Hunter Jumper Association brought passion, skill and horsemanship to the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville on Saturday.
The association’s three-day, summer classic competition not only gives participants the chance to compete, but the chance to learn.
Grace McMahon, 13, has been riding horses for a decade. It’s a passion that runs in her family.
“My dad grew up around horses and my grandmother grew up around horses, so we are kind of a horse family,” Grace said Saturday.
She’s one of dozens of riders who are attracted to the competition and said it’s a challenge she’s ready to take with her horse, Jumping Jake Flash.
“It takes a lot of strength, relaxation and concentration,” she said.
The competition at the Pauline Whitaker Arena was in its second day Saturday, and the riders performed at the intermediate level.
“These are the two-foot jumps,” NAHJA board member Travis Rogers said. “We go from cross rails up into 18 inches and then they start getting into two foot and then we just increase by three inches.”
These riders, who range from three years old to experts in their sixties, come from all over Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Rogers explains what it takes to compete.
“The ones that have already progressed well enough that they know how to control their horse and they know how to get leads and know how to adjust between jumps,” he said.
Grace McMahon, who’s from Natural Dam, said practice and determination are key to this sport.
“I practice a lot, and then I pretty much go out there and do it,” she said.