Sarah Ingram and PA Sebastion - Battle of the Breeds - photo by her dad

Sarah Ingram and PA Sebastion – Battle of the Breeds – photo by her dad

Each year during the Spruce Meadows Masters tournament, more than ten different breed teams vie for the title of the most versatile breed during the TELUS Battle of the Breeds competition.

The teams must be well schooled in both English and Western disciplines as their comprehensive efforts in 5 different events – Compulsory Skills, Precision Driving, Jeopardy Jumping, Barrel Racing and Trail Riding – will determine which breed comes out on top.

This year Horse Junkies United will get an exclusive insider’s look courtesy of Sarah Ingram and Team Arabian!

Sarah, of Sherwood Park, Alberta, and her gelding PA Sebastion will be competing for the second time with Team Arabian (The first was in 2011). Sarah, graciously took a few moments to let us know what’s up and how she and Sebastion are preparing for battle!

Tell us how this works?

Each team can have up to 4 horses competing, with 2 horses in each of the events: Compulsory Skills – aka dressage (one horse is ridden, the other is driven in a cart). Jeopardy Jumping – a “Gamblers Choice” style jumping course. Precision Driving – a timed driving obstacle course. Barrel Racing – pretty self explanatory. And Trail – also timed, with more interesting “obstacles” than normal show trail [like] a teeter totter, jumping down a bank, kicking a giant bouncy ball.

Precision Driving, Battle of the Breeds - Photo by Keara

Precision Driving – Photo by Keara

 How did you get involved with Battle of the Breeds?

In 2011 I was asked to be on the team, and competed in Jeopardy Jumping and Barrel Racing. That was also the first year in the history of the Battle that Team Arabian won the [Jeopardy] Jumping!

How are you and your horse preparing?

Trail Training

Trail Training

We are competitive show jumpers, so we’ve been showing all spring and summer for that. As for Barrel Racing and Trail, we are currently working with another team [Arabian] member from the area, Katelyn Carter, who specializes in Trail, Obstacle Courses, and some trick training. We are also extremely lucky to have a facility nearby with a large “Horse Playground.” Courier Equine Park, and Bob and Hedi Klassen, have allowed Katelyn and I to bring our horses to the Playground and help them get used to slightly more different obstacles. Yes, they even have a horsey-teeter-totter! 

 How is preparing for this competition as a team different than how you’d prepare for an average horse show?

The jumping is exactly the same, and [Sebastion] is at the top of his game right now. The barrel racing is somewhat new to me, so we have been getting a lot of pointers from gymkhana friends. I’ve also been literally forced out of my English saddle (a very sad moment for this girl!)! Sebastion seems to enjoy it, so that helps the schooling a lot. For trail, Katelyn has been working to build Sebastion’s confidence and decrease his nervous moments.  Last night he got to eat his hay off of a large flapping tarp, because he had spent the day pretending to be scared of it. He’s slowly coming around to the idea, and realizing that there is a point behind us making him walk up steps, go over bridges, kick bouncy balls and carry tarps around.

Barrel Training

Barrel Training

What do you think sets the Arabian breed apart from the other breeds in the competition?

I believe that the Arabian is truly the most versatile breed of horse. They’ve gotten a bit of a bad reputation over the years for being hot and crazy, but even within Arabian circuit shows their versatility is shown. Now these shows include the basics of Hunter, Western, Saddleseat, Halter, but now even offer National level classes in Dressage, Working Hunter, Jumper, Reining, Working Cow and Endurance.

Are there any aspects of the competition that are nerve-wracking for you? What gives you confidence to get through them?

I am most nervous for the trail portion, but by being able to spend time working on the exact same obstacles from Battle at Courier Equine Park’s “Playground”, I’m getting the confidence I need to approach the obstacles properly and make it through the course.

Sebastion is more than ready for Showjumping!

Sebastion is more than ready for Showjumping!

Are there any other breeds/teams that you are watching especially closely?

The Appy’s and Morgans have my attention, because of their phenomenal track record, but I’ll also be closely watching the new Team Gypsy Vanner, as their trainer, Jackie Johnson, is known for bringing solid driving and obstacle horses.

Thank you to Sarah for taking the time out to chat! Best of luck to Team Arabian and ALL the breed teams as they battle it out, September 5th through 7th, to see who will come out on top as the most versatile breed. Stay tuned to Horse Junkies United for exclusive coverage straight from the Masters Tournament!

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