Horse and rider become one as they fly around first one barrel, then another. They round a third barrel in unison, at breakneck speeds, with the rider hoping to have been that much faster than the last racer.
It's barrel racing, a sport in which riders and horses seem to know the needs of one another, and this past weekend barrel racers gathered at Sunnyside's S&S Performance Horse Arena, owned by the Sartin family, in an effort to raise funds for Central Washington University's annual rodeo to be staged in Ellensburg next April.
There were four divisions of racing. Gracie Wiersma, a youth division competitor, won Saturday's overall events with her horse Lester. The duo won more than $200 after clocking a time of 14.559.
The overall runner-up in event was Cheyenne Allen on Nike. The horse and rider clocked 14.759.
Winning third place honors, kicking up dirt as they rounded the barrels was Dani Prater and Mr. Grey Barte, with a finishing time of 14.774.
Fourth place honors belonged to Brenna Loften and Misty, with a final time of 14.791.
In the youth division, Kindra Klaustermeyer and Monkey Lady earned runner-up honors with a time of 16.16.
Tammi Willitte earned top honors with HORSE in 15.237 in the senior division, and runner-up for the division was Mary Kinter on Trick, clocking 16.433.
For the novice division Kelsey Gunnier and Penny earned top honors in 15.838, and Amy Muloso on her horse Little earned runner-up honors with a final time of 16.504.
Pee Wee division contestant Annie Minor and her horse Pears clocked a time of 24.06 for runner-up honors. Koral Smartlowit rode in a time of 18.348 on Pretzel for top honors in the division.
Sunday, the riders took to the arena again and Loften won, racing to the finish in a time of 14.515. Wiersma garnered runner-up honors, clocking 14.552.
Patty Wytko-Griffith earned third place honors on her horse Copy Cat Jim in 14.654, and Karla Lane earned fourth place honors with at final time of 14.76.
Taylor Gemmel earned second place honors Sunday in the youth division.
Willitte again earned top honors in the senior division, improving her time to 15.162, and Traci Patterson clocked a time of 15.686 for runner-up honors in the division.
The novice riders took to the arena Sunday and Britni Thorpe earned top honors with a final time of 14.937 on her horse Barbie.
Gunnier clocked 15.329 for runner-up honors.
The event was made possible with sponsorship from Sunnyside Les Schwab and Tami Sartin said the event was a success, providing the riders with an additional opportunity to compete this year.