Local horse trainer on U.S. Equestrian Team | PostIndependent.com

Local horse trainer on U.S. Equestrian Team

It’s been a very exciting 2006 so far for Aaron Ralston of Silt.In March, the Silt horse trainer became a father when his wife, Meg, gave birth to their first child – a son, Parker. Then in June, Ralston traveled to Kentucky and wound up qualifying for the U.S. Equestrian Team.Now he’s off to Europe for a world-class event.”It’s been a big year for us,” said Ralston.The Colorado native will be traveling to Germany for the 2006 World Equestrian Games, one of the most prestigious events in the world for horse trainers. The games will be held Aug. 20 through Sept. 3 in the German city of Aachen.Like the Olympics, the Equestrian Games are held only once every four years, in different cities. So far, the games have been held only in Europe, and they have just seven events. Ralston’s event, reining, was only added in the last games, which were held in Spain. But its popularity in the equestrian world is booming, says Ralston.”The National Reining Horse Association began in the ’60s, and it’s grown phenomenally since then,” said Ralston, who also points out that classic equestrian competitions are centuries old.”The international competitions have really taken off in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Ralston.Reining is a competition of control and form, where competitors are graded on how well their steed responds to their commands. The signature move in reining is a slide-stop from a dead run.”The highest degree of difficulty with the smallest amount of visual aid that you see usually generates your highest scores,” said Ralston, who took third place in the intermediate open at the Summer Slide reining competition in Denver just last week.Reining is scored on the same basic principle as another type of competition in the games, dressage. Reining is basically the Americanized version.Said Ralston’s friend Robin Ryan, “The Europeans have been very intrigued with cowboy ways, and reining is one of those things that has just caught on.”Reining, added Ryan, “is very, very difficult to be good at.”Which is one of the reasons Ralston loves it as much as he does. He says his competitive nature is what drives him to succeed.”Growing up, I wanted to be a professional athlete. I had basketball or rodeo in mind,” he said. Ralston competed in team roping until he began learning horse training in Oklahoma, which was where he first encountered reining.”This kind of came to me when I was in college, and it was a great way for me to stay competitive and make a living at it,” he said.Ralston said he’s honored to represent the U.S. in the international competition alongside his teammates, Tim McQuay, Dell Hendricks, and Matt Mills, all well-known accomplished reiners.”Just to represent our sport for our country is a huge responsibility,” said Ralston.The trip won’t be all business, though. Ralston said he’s also going to take his family sightseeing, regardless of how the competition goes.”We’re going to go over a few days extra, stay in Amsterdam and do the tourist thing,” said Ralston.Contact John Schroyer: 945-8515, ext. 529 jschroyer@postindependent.com

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