What comes to mind when you think of the word “western”? Is it the stereotypical image of a cowboy and his ranch? The “Old West”? While all of these are correct, the riders that will participate in Western Week at the Del Mar National Horse Show bring about a different definition to the word “western”. They embody the rich history of this American derived riding style and the refinements its acquired over time. Western Week is about to commence the 70th annual Del Mar National Horse Show on April 16th.
History of Western Riding
Because of movies, books, and stories, we have connected western riding with the classic “Old West” time of America. Our minds immediately jump to lone cowboys, herds of cattle, and laborious ranch lifestyles. However, there is much more history behind the modern day western discipline. This style of riding has been seen as early as the mid 1600’s- early 1700’s, and was first introduced by the Spanish. Once established, cowboys and ranches began to emerge in America. Cowboys spent much of their time in the saddle and needed tack that was both functional and secure. It was almost a given that cowboys were to work with cattle, thus they had one hand occupied with a lariat used for roping. Because they had only one free hand, western riders developed the infamous technique of neck reigning. This unique style of guidance trained horses to change direction with the light pressure applied to the neck by the reins. Although this old style was once seen as more of a lifestyle than a hobby or favorite pastime, it has now transformed into a common passion among western riders.
Upcoming Western Week
Now that we’ve gotten a brief glimpse of the history behind this particular style, its time to focus on the much anticipated Western Week at the Del Mar National. There will be many classes to see, including the infamous reigning exhibitions that will be performed by world class riders. Many spectators and riders alike will be marking their calendars for the evening of April 18th, which is when the spectacular “Night of the Horse” will be held. Namely horsemen such as Tommie Turvey, Bobby Kerr, and Chad Nicholson will be performing before the audience. The Knights of Iceland will also partake in this event, let by Icelandic Championship winner, Gudmar Peturrson. There will also be a presentation of the magnificent Peruvian Pasos, shown by local California breeders. There’s much to look forward to during this year’s Western Week!