Young riders learn about horsemanship |

Young riders learn about horsemanship

Karl Horeis
Taylor Newell, 13, of Reno, second from left, and Cassie Lehmann, 10, of Reno, center wait for the judges to announce the leaders during the walks and trot in Washoe Valley on Saturday. Below, Rachel Allazetta puts a ribbon on Red after placing 5th in the horse show. Red is 23-years-old.

Girls on horseback wearing velvet helmets, sport coats and tan tights rode around a Washoe Valley horse arena on Saturday during the Zephyr Farms Hunter/Jumper Show.

For the walk/trot equitation competition, an emcee gave them directions while a judge watched from outside the fence.

“Walk, please. Walk,” said the emcee. The girls slowed their horses. After riding controlled for a minute, they got another instruction.

“Canter, please. Canter.”

During equitation competitions, riders are judged for their position on the horse. During a hunter series, the horses are judged. During jumping, the horse and rider must clear all jumps as fast as possible.

“So that can be very exciting,” said Laurie Alden, show director and owner of Zephyr Farms.

“That’s what you watch in the Olympics with the grand-prix jumping. And they all started right here. Everyone you see in the Olympics did this first.”

The all-day show was sanctioned by the Sierra Nevada Horse Show Association, which has about 120 members. About 45 riders competed Saturday.

One of them was Aneill Fisler of Washoe Valley, who is five years younger than her 17-year-old horse, My Buddy. She straddled the reddish-brown Appendix Quarter Horse waiting for her turn in the arena.

“I’m excited because he’s my new horse – I’ve only been training with them for a year,” she said. “But I’m feeling pretty comfortable because I’ve been riding since I was 3 so I feel confident.”

Riders compete at shows around the region, collecting points through the April-to-October season. A final award ceremony for the SNHSA is scheduled for Jan. 29 at Thunder Canyon Golf Course. Ribbons are also awarded at each show.

Alden hosts about three shows each year at her ranch, where she also boards horses, offers horsemanship camps and teaches clinics. The ranch is located on Lakeshore Drive on the east side of the currently dried-up Washoe Lake.

“It’s a great sport for this area because there’s so many places to ride,” she said. “If you don’t want to ride in the ring there’s some wonderful trail rides.”

She watched a young rider approach a two-foot jump, lean forward in her stirrups and hold on as the horse went over it.

“Good!” she hollered. “Go ahead and canter out that gate, then come around and talk to me.”

She said the sport teaches people about commitment, self control and focus.

“Because you can’t excel in this sport without a lot of dedication.”

Competitors at Saturday’s event ranged in age from 5 to adult.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.