GREAT WESTERN - After almost two years absence from the competition show ring, Great Western quarter horse Jack Patch returned with a vengeance for owners Martin Riley and Sharon Delaney.
Ridden by Ms Delaney, Jack Patch cleaned up at the recent Ballarat and District Quarter Horse Association 'A' show by winning three events - select amateur trail, amateur reining and all-age western riding.
It is an amazing feat by Jack Patch who, at 11 years of age, is the oldest horse in Victoria still competing in western riding.
Reining is a sport of skill, speed and power, where a horse and rider run an intricate pattern of complex footwork for the horse.
The hallmark of reining is the sliding stop which consists of a full throttle gallop followed by a sliding stop - zero to 60 in reverse.
"There is no walk or trot. There is only canter or flat out gallops. It is hard on their legs. Most horses break down when four or five (years old)," Mr Riley, who is also Jack Patch's strapper, said.
Husband and wife, Mr Riley and Ms Delaney are quarter horse enthusiasts who moved across to Victoria from South Australia four years ago because of their love to compete.
"We were fed up with spending the whole day travelling with the horse float. There are no clubs in South Australia," Mr Riley said.
However, Mr Riley was pleased to see western reining has gained popularity across the world in recent years.
"There are people in Europe quitting dressage to participate in western reining," he said.
The sport is popular in America, with the largest American Quarter Horse Association-Sponsored event held at Oklahoma City each year in November.
There is over $500,000 in prizes up for grabs at events in the United States, however back in Victoria, there is currently no prizemoney.
Horses earn points that add up over the year and go towards larger state Australian Quarter Horse Association shows.
Victoria has two quarter horse clubs in the state, one in Tatura and the other in Werribee while Tamworth is the home to the largest event arena.
In 2009, Jack Patch won six Victorian Reining Horse Association high points awards, including Horse of the Year.
He has also won high points in three classes with the Goulburn Valley Reining Horse Association, ending a very successful 2009 show year.
Reining is the only western discipline to be recognised by the FEI in the year 2000 and it was first featured in the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Spain.
It was accepted at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year and is also going through the process of becoming an Olympic sport.