It’s all fun and games until you’re jumping over fire. Or, for those competing in the Extreme Cowboy Association, that’s all part of the fun and games.
Founded in 2008 by master horseman Craig Cameron, the EXCA and it’s competitive races are “like trail on speed,” according to APHA member Tammy Botsford of Rockyview, Alberta, Canada.
“It’s a very speed-oriented event; you get evaluated on your performance of each obstacle, but the time element weighs heavily on your score,” Tammy said. “There is a big emphasis on safety, but there are also some pretty wild obstacles; pretty much anything that traditional trail would ban is in!”
Introduced to the event by past APHA President Pete Fraser, Tammy competes in EXCA aboard Dez Add To The Assets, her 2004 chestnut overo gelding by Hes Got The Assets and out of Added Dimension, who also helped Tammy see success at the APHA World Championship Show.
Together, “Jake” and Tammy seized the reserve world championship in the non-pro division at the 2014 EXCA World Championships October 30-November 2 in Hamilton, Texas.
“There are two go-rounds, and then the Top 10 combined scores from the go-rounds get to come back with a clean slate for the finals,” Tammy said. “We were sitting in fourth going into the finals. It was a tough course and the competition was definitely fierce, but we had a great time! Everybody cheers everybody else on; it’s just really fun.”
The finals round included daunting obstacles like a stacked bridge with flashing lights, jousting rings, roping a horse in a pen and dropping a ball into a moving ATV.
“There was also ‘Craig’s Café,’ which was a false front to look like a bar, and it had a big, stuffed bear and a couple of stools and barrels,” Tammy said. “You had to get off your horse, ground tie him, go over to the café and have a ‘barroom brawl.’ So—as fast as you can—you have to get off your horse, run over and punch a bear, knock over a barrel and then get back on your horse.”
To finish the course, riders stopped at a mounting block, dismounted and unsaddled before remounting bareback and leaping two jumps.
“Jake kind of took me for an impromptu detour near the end because I was physically exhausted and he wanted to go a little farther down the rail than we needed to,” Tammy said.
Tammy and Jake earned a score of 105.856 in the finals to clinch the reserve title out of 35 competitors—the largest division of the event.
“It was just incredible, and I came in second behind a really amazing team,” Tammy said. “The girl who won the division has won the world five times or so. Getting beat by that level of competition? I’m OK with that.”
After a successful EXCA event, Tammy and Jake headed to Fort Worth for the APHA World Championship Show, where they competed in speed and ranch horse events. Tammy credits Jake’s willingness for their versatile abilities.
“He just has no fear; he’ll do whatever I ask him to do,” Tammy said. “He might not be perfect, but he has so much heart and try, that if we can go do something, we’ll do it.”
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.