By Kate Daly | Special to the Almanac
Extreme cowboy racing is coming to the Horse Park at Woodside on Saturday, Aug. 23, thanks to local organizer and competitor Michael Raynor.
The Woodside Challenge is open to the first 25 male and female contestants, ages 7 and up, who sign up to ride Western and test their horsemanship and speed over courses of man-made and natural obstacles "that you would find in a ranch, cowboy-style situation," Mr. Raynor explains.
Horseman Craig Cameron originated extreme cowboy racing in Texas about 10 years ago. The Extreme Cowboy Association (EXCA) is based there and governs the sport.
The Woodside Challenge is an official EXCA event that is open to non-association members. The competition is divided into eight divisions with courses designed to different degrees of difficulty, ranging from beginners to pros.
Gary Lubben is coming from Southern California to design and judge. Riders will be awarded points, prize money, ribbons, and belt buckles.
Mr. Raynor says competitors are coming from as far away as Elko, Nevada, and Los Angeles. He is the leading regional champion right now, and plans to compete in the world championships in Texas in October.
A member of the Bay Area Ravine and Ridge Riders, San Mateo County Horseman's Association, and Mounted Patrol, Mr. Raynor keeps his competition horse, Flash Gordo, in Woodside. Since 2007 they have been practicing tackling obstacles. For them, the winning combo is to make sure "it's a team effort" between horse and rider. One of his quarter horse's special talents is kicking a soccer ball through a goal.
The Woodside event will be held in and around the Horse Park's water complex. Typical courses can have rough terrain such as boulders and down-banks to negotiate, man-made bridges or curtains to pass through, cones to work around using dressage-like moves, and cowboy activities such as throwing bales of hay over fences or sorting live cattle.
The entry fee for contestants ranges from $50 for young riders to $85 for pros, and includes two rides per division.
To register, contact Mr. Raynor at (650) 722-2112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spectators are welcome. Admission is free. Food and horse-related items will be for sale during the event, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3674 Sand Hill Road.