Multi-trick ponies

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August 25, 2016 12:00 AM

After winning in her divisions at the Canadian Trick Riders Association finals two years in a row, Dewberry's Paynton Bensmiller, 12, is now heading to Las Vegas to compete in the North American Championship in December.

Dewberry girl, 12, off to Vegas to represent Canada in trick riding competition

Up until recently trick riding was mostly for entertainment with little in the way for riders in terms of competition.
In fact, the Canadian Trick Riding Association (CTRA) just started up last year, and before that everything was under contract with riders being paid to perform only at events that hired them. 
Things are starting to change, however, and during the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association finals in Lloydminster last week, the CTRA held its own competition.
“We had about 25 girls ages six to 19 and they compete all year, and that was the finals and if they won their event, they get to go to Vegas in December to compete at the North American (Championship),” said Amber Miller, a 15-year trick riding veteran who coaches roughly half the CTRA riders.
“We started putting in some competitions just for girls that needed a place to ride and couldn’t book shows; really there hasn’t been any competitions for probably about 50 years.”
This is also the first year for the North American Championship in Las Vegas, which will be held at the Convention Centre on Dec. 5 and 6, with Miller adding that it’s kind of a trial to see how much of a buzz it can drum up.
There will be roughly 15 riders from the United States and 15 more from Canada, one of whom will be 12 year old Paynton Bensmiller from Dewberry Alta., who is one of Miller’s proteges.
Miller said Bensmiller is hyped about her shot in Sin City and has started working on improving her game for the event.
“She’s super excited to go; all the girls that have made it there are already starting to train harder and do harder tricks and perfect the ones that they have,” Miller said.
“Even from last year going into this year, they worked really hard to perfect tricks and trust their horses and it takes basically a really good horse and a lot of hard work with the trick on trick rider.”
Those Canucks going to the Vegas event are the Canadian winners from both 2015 and 2016, with Bensmiller winning her junior division last year and getting Act of the Year.
This year she moved up a division to compete with the older girls in the senior division and walked away with another cool win after pulling off two of her signature tricks, the Stroud Layout and the Fender Flyaway.
Miller said trick riding is really starting to grow, finally becoming more of a sport as opposed to pure entertainment.
“When I started riding 15 years ago there were about eight trick riders in Canada, and now I basically coach about 30 just myself so it’s really just grown the sport,” she said.
“We hope to start more competitions and allow for more girls to come and just give more places to trick ride; it’s kind of a hard thing, you can do it, but it’s hard to get shows because you really have to sell yourself and get performances, so this is just to make more of an organized sport.”

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