Founded in 1979, the Traildusters have been riding in Gymkhanas in Smith for the last 40 years. There are over 70 active members and are open to more.
Gymkhanas are timed events which challenge horseback riding skill. There are five timed events in three classes: peewee, junior, intermediate and adult. The events are barrels, poles, flags, keyhole and stakes. Participants range from under one year old to seniors.
This year’s Trailduster award banquet was on October 5. Attendees included at the time, incumbent Conservative candidate Arnold Viersen.
Member John-David Dennis collected information about the last few years and sent the information to The Leader in an email.
The first Gymkhana was on June 8, 1979. The first and longest serving president was Tony VanBoxtel. Tony and his wife Corrie are still honorary members, but don’t ride.
Devin Attfield is the longest active member, with 40 years. He rides and teaches children horsemanship and riding skills.
Gaylene Haynes is the current president.
“The years seem to run together,” Haynes says, in the email. “I think it’s been 20 years and five or six as president.”
Not all kids have their own horses, so other families let them use their horses.
“Dozens of kids over the years have ridden Angel, Honey Horse, Blue, Chip and Cornel to name a few,” says Haynes.
“The neatest thing for me has been watching the kids some as young as 11 months grow into adulthood on the backs of horses becoming horsemen,” says Haynes. “Honestly, it’s been a blessing to be part of this club.”
There are several examples of horsemen and women who started in the club and have gone on to do other things.
Eylam and Nitay Podolak are members of the club. They are 11 and 10 years old. They ride mini broncs and qualified for the 2018 Junior National Finals Rodeo for the last three years.
Nitay is the 2019 Montana state mini saddle bronc champion and all around cowboy champion.
Eylam is 2018 and 2019 Montana state mini bareback champion.
Another member Corrine Andros is an internationally known jockey. Eleven years ago, Andros joined the Traildusters. When she told a well-known farrier she wanted to try bull riding, the farrier suggested she try thoroughbreds instead. She went to Olds College for a jockey course.
In Canada, Andros has raced at Northlands Park (Edmonton), Hastings Park (Vancouver), Ajax Downs (Ontario), Fort Erie (Ontario) and Woodbine (Toronto) racetracks. Internationally, she’s raced in Abu Dhabi, Poland, Morocco, the UK, and California.
Andros manages the Royal Canadian Riding Academy in Toronto, races and trains thoroughbreds.
Traildusters are busy throughout the summer, with a Gymkhana every second Sunday The first ride is May long weekend, but the first Gymkhana for points is in June.
The Traildusters ride in the Smith Fall Fair, Wagner-Widewater Canada Day parade, and the Riverboat Daze parade.
“The adults say they do it for club exposure, but in reality it’s an opportunity for the kids and adults to show off our equine friends and spend the day meeting the people that love these animals,” says Haynes.