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Lakewood student competes in world championships
LAKEWOOD — For Shelbey Jackson, weekends aren’t for relaxing on the couch — they’re for refining her skills.
While most teenagers spend their Saturdays working part-time jobs or hanging out with friends, the 18-year-old senior at Lakewood High School is in Ellensberg working with her 7-year-old quarter horse, Ollie.
“He’s eager to work and he’ll listen, but still let you be in control,” Jackson said about Ollie. “The majority of horses you can get are good horses — it’s just a matter of putting in the time and showing how serious you are about it.”
The work put in by both human and horse has paid off for Jackson, who was scheduled to compete in the 2010 National Reined Cow Horse Association’s Celebration of Champions in early February.
There, the duo will have two chances to become world champions in an event that Jackson said she typically has to explain multiple times to her friends.
Jackson was scheduled to leave on Jan. 30 for San Angelo, Texas, where she and her horse were qualified to compete in the novice non-pro brindle and youth brindle world championships.
Cow horse, also known as working cow horse, is broken into two separate parts — the first of which riders must maneuver their horse in a series of circles, spins and patterns.
During that “dry work” part, the horse is judged based on how it responds to the rider and his or her reining, Jackson said.
“It’s just showing that you can do all these different maneuvers,” Jackson said.
The second part — and most difficult — of a cow horse event requires the horse to hold and maneuver a single cow in the arena.
That cow is then forced to run down the side of a fence, during which the horse sprints ahead and turns it multiple times (known as fencing).
“You show that you have control and turn the cow each way,” Jackson said.
Finally, the horse moves the cow into the center of the arena where it is forced to run in tight circles.
Jackson said she practices with Ollie each weekend, but individual cows have different personalities and tendencies, which make cow horse an unpredictable event.
“You don’t know what kind of cow you’re going to get,” she said. “There’s so many variables. You got to work with what you have.”
Reaching the world championships required Jackson to collect points throughout the regular season, which started in February 2009.
Shelbey Jackson said she would not be able to compete in national events without the help of her parents and the horse’s trainer, Kim Witty.
“They’re really supportive of everything,” she said. “It’s OK if I don’t win — I’ve done way more with myself than I’ve ever thought I could.”