Reining event storms into fairgrounds

Mike Davis of Grand Junction and his horse, Chexnicks Valentyn slide to a stop Thursday in the non-professional competition at the Western Slope Reining Association’s Spring Classic competition at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. The event continues through Sunday.

Jan Williams of Fruita watched video Thursday afternoon, following her first reining class of the weekend at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

“She surprised me,” Williams said of her paint mare named A Lil White Lie. “She kind of jumped into it, those first turns. And I never put my rein hand down.”

“But you ended it right,” said Williams’ trainer, Bub Poplin of Fruita, who also happens to be the president of the Western Slope Reining Horse Association. The organization is sponsoring a four-day reining competition at the fairgrounds that runs through Sunday. More than 200 horses and riders are at the event and are expected to compete in more than 700 individual rides throughout the weekend. They come from all over western Colorado, the Front Range and Utah.

Reining is a sport in which horse and rider engage in specific patterns that include wide circles, tight spins and sliding stops.

“I tell people it’s like ice skating with a horse,” said Taylor Sturm, Williams’ granddaughter, who has also been a reining competitor.

Williams said she has ridden horses nearly all her life, and was involved with Arabians for a long time. She got involved with reining about 12 years ago. “I like it because it’s a challenge to work with another creature” and get them to perform in partnership with you.

The competition runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. For more information, go to


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