Flying Hooves and Dirt Mark Annual Brigadettes Gymkhana

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IMPERIAL — The Barbara Worth Brigadettes (BWB) were out in force Saturday at the KD Danch arena north of Spreckles sugar factory welcoming equine competitors as horse trailers filled the parking lot for their annual gymkhana.

The event drew a large group as riders and families came to play equine games, buy raffle tickets, win prizes, and have fun. The annual gymkhana, hosted by the women’s riding club, is for all levels of equestrian riders.

Games offered were the keyhole, Washington poles, barrels, fox and hound, ribbon race, and more. The muddy grounds of the previous week had dried with only wispy clouds high overhead as a sign of the earlier winter deluge. The cool early morning eventually warmed to another beautiful Valley day.

The aroma of bacon drifted through the grounds as the Imperial County Sheriff’s posse cooked breakfast on an outdoor grill before lunch prep began for the crowd. By the end of the day, the posse volunteers had sold out of food.

Each age category was filled with competitors from the leadline-led littlest ones to the seasoned citizens who all pushed for the gold, or in this case, the blue ribbons – and bragging rights.

“This is a great family event,” said Kevin Grizzle of Holtville. “I usually participate, but today my son, Jack, has my horse and he’s riding today. I’ll be back next time.”

The Brigadettes spent weeks preparing for their big event, buying prizes, lining up sponsors and organizing themselves to fill the many arena jobs necessary to have a flawless and safe family game day.

“The Brigadettes put on an amazing event,” Dale Griggs said, owner of KD Danch arena and host for the day. “They think of everything and are like an army of women. They have got this gymkhana down.”

The BWB equestrian club meets sans horses every other month, but the ladies ride the trails monthly at different sites, not just in Southern California, but venturing to Arizona as well.

Brigadette member Marsha Boutwell helped run the raffle, a busy job selling tickets and answering raffle questions, all the while visiting with her equestrian friends.

Boutwell, along with her husband, Brent, run a stable and a recovery center for abandoned and abused horses. They also work with special needs people, providing time on a horse as well as allowing them the therapeutic job of grooming a horse.

“This is a fun job to have,” Boutwell said. “I get to sit and see everyone. Almost the whole crowd will filter through here before the day is over.”

Murrie Plourd and Karen Constable manned the arena gates giving participants an encouraging word, even those who disqualified themselves by breaking the pattern.

The annual event continues to draw high numbers as the quality of the organization prepares for a fun-filled family day of camaraderie and competition. This BWB event is part of the Buckle series for the KD Danch year-end awards.

Some of the gymkhana high point winners show their winnings at the end of the day along with the Brawley Cattle Call royalty.

High Point winners:

8 & Under – Jake Leavitt

9 – 13 – Ruby Robbins

14-17 – Jack Grizzle

18-39 – Jacque Dickerson

40 & older – Tyler McCoy