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Fairgrounds hosts 39th annual quarter horse show

Modified: Friday, Jul 26th, 2013

Linda Solheim-Diehl and her horse, Nic it in the Gun, compete in the amateur working cow horse competition Thursday at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds during the Santa Clara Quarter Horse Show. (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — The 39th annual American Quarter Horse Breeders of Santa Clara Valley Quarter Horse Show is taking place at the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds. About 400 competitors from California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada are taking part in the event that includes a wealth of competitions for novice youth, youth, novice amateur, amateur, senior and all-age categories.

Laura Raynak of Watsonville said she was competing in the working cow horse.

“What I like about this sport is that it makes me live in the moment,” she said. “You have to be very focused and every little movement counts. It definitely keeps you young.”
 Raynak said she was riding Ima Bald Soula and has competed for the last five years.

“He is an amazing horse and I know he just loves this. He gets so excited. This is a great event and there is a lot of support for your efforts from all these folks.”

The show includes showmanship, western riding, trail, pleasure driving, team roping, reigning, and cutting.

Linda Solheim-Diehl of McKenna, Washington, competed Thursday on her three-year-old horse, Nic it in the Gun, in the working cow horse event.

“They judge you in two basic categories,” she said, “Reign work and cow work. So much depends on your position to the cow and how you and your horse can control that animal. There are several maneuvers the judges are looking for, like stopping the cow along the fence and turning it around, or moving it out into the middle of the ring. It’s very difficult and so much depends on your horse — how well they have been trained. I love it.”

Benny Guitron of Merced said he has been training horses for the past 48 years.

“It’s the ultimate in the western horse in California where working cow horse originated,” Guitron said. “I’ve been coming to this show for many years and it’s always a good time. This kind of riding is in our heritage and, for me, it’s a passion.”

Jeff Dudley of Acampo, which is near Sacramento, said his wife got him hooked on working cow horse.

“I’ve been at it for about 10 years,” Dudley said. “It’s definitely an adrenaline rush. There’s a lot of strong competition here. But we love coming to Watsonville. It’s been over 100 where I am from. Coming to Watsonville for your nice weather and nice fairgrounds are things we look forward to.”

The event runs through Sunday and is free to the public.

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