When most of us think of Alaska, we envision plentiful snow, stunning glaciers, and salmon fishing. Yet, not everyone realizes the horse show industry we all know and love is very much part of life in this frigid locale.
It’s true that horse shows in the tundra sometimes take a pause to allow a wayward bear or moose to move through the grounds. Also, Alaskan horsemen are known for their tenacity to ride in freezing temperatures that most of us would shy away from; but horse show life behind the scenes is clearly a hidden treasure for those who know it best.
The very nature of the climate of the state separated from what Alaskans call “the lower 48” has created a unique and welcoming environment for horse enthusiasts. That includes AQHA Professional Horsemen, trainers, show staff, judges, and exhibitors, who can all say that while Alaska presents distinctive challenges; its rewards are like no other.
Horse Life in the Last Frontier
For those who have never experienced Alaska in person, AQHA Professional Horseman Stacy Minkler, owner of Rusty Spur Ranch in Alaska, explains more. “Alaska is very unique. In every way it’s extreme, from the weather to the long daylight, to views from the horse shows. Our summers are short, and all horse owners here get very excited when the ground breaks and we’re finally able to ride on sand,” she says. The Anchorage-born trainer has a small operation with personal show horses, and she offers sales prep and conditioning as well as haul-in lessons and services as a traveling instructor.