Acton Gymkhana Field Trip, April 1 2012

Field Trips

Holly Peskin

Twelve LPA members participated in the field trip to the Acton Rangers Gymkhana on Sunday, April 1st.  Sue Craft led the trip and provided tips and instruction on photographing horses and riders while they are competing in speed events.  There was an opportunity to photograph lots of action in Acton.

Some of us met at Crazy Otto's in Acton for breakfast before going to the Gymkhana.  The rest met us at the arena.  We took a group photo before going to various places around the arena to photograph the action.  The weather was fantastic.  It had rained the previous night; the skies were clear; the wind was calm in the morning, and the temperature was mild.  What a great day to photograph the horses and riders at the gymkhana.

Paul Craft

A gymkhana is an equestrian event consisting of pattern racing and timed games for riders on horses.  Timed speed events such as barrel racing and pole racing are designed to display precise, controlled actions and tight teamwork between horse and rider at speed.  The Acton Rangers Gymkhana takes place on the first Sunday of each month between March and October at an arena in Acton.  You can find out more about this event at

Sue Craft

At the Acton Rangers Gymkhana, there were four levels of competition: Novice, A, AA, and AAA.  The AAA horses and riders completed the races in very short times and were very competitive.  The novices were learning to direct their horses through the sometimes complex race patterns.  In between, the A and AA riders were showing their increasing skills and teamwork. There were beautiful horses in the gymkhana, and most of the riders were female.  Their ages varied from pre school to adult.  There were some young men who participated; one very young boy who rode his horse in the novice barrel race was led by his sister walking the horse through the course.  He received a nice round of applause as he crossed the finish line.

There were six events at the gymkhana:

  • Washington poles.  Six tall poles are placed in a straight line in the arena.  Contestants race to the far pole, then weave between the poles in both directions, then run the length of the arena to the finish.
  • Wayne Staley
    Quadrangle.   Four poles are placed in the corners of the arena.  Contestants cross the start line in the center, ride around each of the four poles and finish at the center.
  • Single Barrel.  A single barrel is placed at the end of the arena.  Riders race to the barrel, turn around it, and race back to the start line.
  • Precision Barrels.  Three barrels are placed across the arena at the far end.  Riders race to the center barrel, turn around it, and then weave through the barrels in both directions before rounding the center barrel and racing back to the start line.
  • Clover Leaf.  Three barrels are placed in a large triangle.  Contestants race around each barrel in sequence forming a cloverleaf pattern.
  • Keyhole.  Riders race the length of the arena into a keyhole pattern, turn around (without going outside the keyhole), and race back to the start.

Douglas Paul Wade

Sue set up our arrival time so that we would see both pole and barrel races soon after our arrival.  We arrived as the contestants were finishing the Washington Poles.  Then we had great photo opportunities during the Quadrangle races and got to see exciting speed and maneuvering in the Single Barrel races.   You can see some of the photographs from this field trip at the LPA website.  Probably some of the entries in our next two competitions will be from this event.


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