Local woman enjoys competitive horse riding
It's not easy by any means, but Vickie White wouldn't want to have it any other way.
Sure, the Leavenworth County woman could wear her best outfit, saddle up on one of her eight horses, take it on a brief 30-second ride around a ring and probably win some ribbons.
But that's not her nature.
"I believe in order to be a horseman you have to participate in all aspects of the horse's life," White said.
White, a member of two competitive trail riding clubs, often takes her favorite horse, Cervantes, on two-day trail rides stretching more than 40 miles. While she could win plenty of ribbons showing Cervantes, a handsome Spanish Arabian male, she wouldn't trade the time she spends with him during the trail rides for anything.
"The people are really cool," White said. "Every time you go out, you learn something new about the horses and the people. And you get to see gorgeous trails."
White recently won the prestigious Diamond Award, which is given out yearly by the North American Trail Ride Conference to the rider that helps make its events more enjoyable for others.
"I was just overwhelmed," White said of winning the award. "I had no idea."
Friends and acquaintances that also participate in the trail rides had nominated White.
Sharon Koch, who wrote a letter nominating White for the award, said White's encouragement helped her to overcome back surgery and become a member of the NATRC.
White also helped get Koch's daughter hooked on trail riding, Koch said.
"She's a good person by heart," Koch said.
Rhonda Levinson, who also wrote a letter nominating White, said White unselfishly stayed behind to help comfort her horse after it nearly drowned during an event.
By staying behind, she cost herself a first-place finish in the event, although she later made up enough time to finish second.
Despite the praise of her fellow competitors, White insists she hasn't done anything out of the ordinary.
"It's just the way I was raised," White said.
White said she participated in her first competitive trail riding event three years ago, although she has been riding horses since she was 9 years old.
"Ever since then, I've been addicted," she said of the events. "I've got it bad."
White said she enjoys the competitive nature of trail riding, which requires riders to camp out with their horses and travel to events throughout the Midwest.
"I think you learn something every ride that you go on," White said.
There is a difference in simply riding horses and participating in competitive trail rides, such as those that White participates in. The difference is the effort that goes into getting ready for each trail ride, she said.
"It requires a lot of work to do it," White said.
Horses and their riders each receive scores during a competitive trail riding event.
White and Cervantes have already earned a variety of awards.
White is busy preparing for her first competitive trail ride of 2002, which is scheduled to take place in about a month in Salem, Mo.
If she has her way, it will be the next chapter in a trail riding career that will last several more years.