TWENTY barrel racing enthusiasts were in horse heaven last weekend when two legends from the equine industry joined them at Bartlett Park for a three day clinic.
Well-known Australian horseman Ian Francis and American barrel racing champion Dena Kirkpatrick instructed the participants in a series of workshops aimed at improving both horsemanship and specific barrel racing technique.
It is the solution the pair came up with when they first met five years ago and discussed the best way to frame a horse when barrel racing.
Dena had driven four hours from her hometown in Post, Texas, to watch Ian ride and ask him the one question no one else in America seemed able to answer.
Since that first meeting, the pair has held several combined clinics in Australia every year.
Last weekend’s clinic at Bartlett Park, Kelso, was the first joint clinic held in Townsville and participants travelled from Ingham, Charters Towers and further west to attend.
Dena said that while Australia has the best horsemen by necessity, America has a lot more barrel racing and is therefore somewhat more advanced.
“There are tonnes of Aussies kicking butt overseas because they have that horsemanship,” Dena said.
“We want to look at how to apply that to barrel racing,” she said.
“Everyone here is real keen and fun and there is a lot of interest.”
Organiser and local barrel racing enthusiast Rebecca Kakoshke first attended one of Ian and Dena’s clinics four years ago in Rockhampton.
She said it was great to finally have the pair in Townsville and expected a few weary horsemen by the clinic’s end.