A full weekend of hands-on horse activities is planned Aug. 24-25, at the Alliant Energy Center, which will host the second-annual "Taking the Reins" event, presented by the Midwest Horse Fair.
The event, which is owned by the Wisconsin Horse Council, is intended to give horse lovers more of a chance to actually do things with horses than they have a chance to during the Midwest Horse Fair, a huge, annual springtime event that draws participants and clinicians from all over the country.
This year's Taking the Reins will include a host of activities: a Twilight Barrel Racing Sweepstakes event; a free concert performance by a Madison rock band; a chuck-wagon cook-off and dinner; a chance to ride a reining horse; colt starting; pole bending; trick riding; and understanding striding and changing leads when jumping.
The event will include a "Mustang Gathering" bringing together all horse owners who have adopted a Mustang from the Bureau of Land Management. Those horses and riders can compete in traditional and novice classes to compare how their Mustangs perform.
Class ribbons and a high-point buckle will be awarded. The Mustang event will be Saturday, Aug. 24.
For others the hands-on event might include learning more about the collected canter or cattle sorting or driving.
As it did at last year's inaugural event, this year's Taking the Reins will include a group of avid drivers, wagons and horses that will give participants a chance to feel what it's like to drive a well-trained horse hitched to a buggy or wagon.
Organizers are calling it the "Ultimate Driving Experience" as people will get a chance to take the reins and sit next to a skilled driver and learn the basics of driving, perhaps getting the chance to do something they hadn't had the chance to do before.
The drivers will also provide braiding and hitching demonstrations both days of the event.
For attendees who want to try the driving experience, registration is $10 on site on a first-come, first-served basis.
The event will also include Rodeo University, a variety of activities for young children, hoof care basics and other crowd-pleasing events.
Not the least of those will be the Championship Challenge horse show. It will be the culmination of a season of showing for participants who attend sanctioned open shows to earn points to qualify for this year-end event.
This will be the first time the Championship Challenge show will come to Taking the Reins.
English classes begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Western classes begin at noon on Sunday. The show will be in the Nutrena Arena.
Competitors need to be a Level I member of the Wisconsin Horse Council in order to participate.
Competitors nominate themselves and their horses to qualify for the opportunity to compete in the statewide Challenge horse show by submitting class nomination forms and fees.
For more information see the website www.takingthereins.net.