Barrel racing alive and well in Tama County

Jordan Van Hamme of Belle Plaine and her horse My Blue Hotshot cut the corner around the first barrel during the NBHA D3 show in Toledo on Oct. 4. Van Hamme is a 2011 graduate of South Tama County High School.

The Ridge Riders Saddle Club wrapped up their 2020 season earlier this month with a three-day weekend barrel racing event at the club’s home arena west of Toledo.

Activities began on Friday, Oct. 2 with a club sponsored jackpot show. On the following two days the Iowa District 3 chapter of the National Barrel Horse Association hosted a larger show bringing in participants from across northeast Iowa.

Over 50 barrel racers of all ages gathered to run their horses through a timed figure-eight course that tests the horses agility and quickness while having to change directions.

Of the group, roughly 10 riders were from Tama County.

Debbie Wagner of Chelsea came home with a win during the Sunday session, capturing the fastest qualifying time in the Senior 40 barrel race with her horse Cash.

Michelle Babinat of Tama helps her son Gavin get lined up to go out on the barrel race course with their horse Cash. The NBHA D3 show held a PeeWee division ahead of the youth and adult competitions on Oct. 3 and 4.

The Ridge Riders Saddle Club in Toledo has been in existence since the early ’60s and at one time tallied over 100 members in and around the southern Tama County area.

Today their membership is smaller in number but remains strong through generations of riders that have kept coming back year after year.

Wagner, who serves as the club’s secretary and treasurer, says she’s stayed active with the club because it’s been with her family for generations.

She grew up with her parents active in running horses and participating in the club races.

Today she, as well as several other families within the barrel racing community, enjoys teaching and riding with the younger generations in her own family.

Debbie Wagner competes with her horse Cash during the NBHA D3 barrel race show on Oct. 4.

“It’s nice, you get to see friends and all the different people running in the shows,” Wagner said. “I have a granddaughter running now and it’s great to be there with her.”

The local club holds outdoor shows open to the public on Thursday nights from May through Sept.

With many indoor events forced into postponements or cancelations this past year, the Saddle Club has thankfully been able to hold most of their outdoor contests as the area grounds are spacious enough to allow for social distancing.

There’s no cost for spectators to attend and the club encourages people to check out their events next season as a fun, outdoor activity in the Tama-Toledo area.

Stay in touch with the Toledo Ridge Riders Saddle Club on their Facebook page.

Logan Babinat rides Cash around the barrel race course at the Ridge Riders Saddle Club arena on Oct. 4. Helping out on the lead rope is Logan’s mom, Michelle Babinat of Tama.