STEADY BROOK — Four competitors from the region have been traveling to a lot of horse shows this summer.
Darryl Murphy and her sister Karen have entered 14 shows in recent months along with their main men: Reese and Justin — nine-year-old quarter-horses.
The sisters recently returned from the American Quarter Horse Association Region Six Championships in Massachusetts held in July.
It is the largest show the sisters have ever competed in, with 450 horses and almost 2,000 entries in various categories.
Together, they wrangled up 15 ribbons and a few third-place finishes. At horse shows, there are placings for the top six finishers.
The show is only open to the quarter-horse breed from the Northeastern United States, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.
Darryl competed in the all-around, which includes English and Western riding styles spread over six events including the Western Pleasure category, which evaluates the horse’s manner and stability.
Darryl lives at a barn in Steady Brook, where she cares for the property and a large indoor riding arena to train the horses year-round.
Each summer, the sisters bring their horses in New Brunswick to train with high-calibre instructors.
The first summer they trained for two weeks, and it quickly grew to seven weeks of training this summer.
“It allows us to keep our horses trained to the level it needs to be, to compete,” Darryl said.
She said equestrian activities are declining in the province, which is why they have to travel so far to compete.
“There are a lot of horses around,” she said. “But there’s not a lot of people who wish to compete, or compete at the level we do.”
They have been traveling outside the province to show their horses for about 15 years.
“If you want to compete and see how your stack up to other people, you’ve gotta go where the competition is,” she said.
They started showing at exhibitions in Cape Breton and progressed to shows in the U.S.
Costs a factor
She said many people at U.S. shows are surprised that they travel from so far to complete, as it take approximately 31 hours to travel. The most the horses are in a trailer at one time is 21 hours.
The horses alone cost $15,000 each when they were bought in 2008.
With training and travel, the cost of competing can get quite expensive, but that’s OK with her.
“Neither one of us does much travelling, like going to Cuba,” Darryl said. “This is what we like to do, is compete with our horses.”
The sisters both have day jobs, but have enough vacation with their work to allow for horse shows in the summer.
Darryl said she and Karen have met a lot of friends through the horse show circuit and they look forward to seeing them each year.
“It makes for an enjoyable summer for us.”