Cowboy Challenge in New Zealand is a competition that is designed to test horsemanship and communication from the rider to their horse through negotiating a series of obstacles. Riders complete a timed course with 13 obstacles (out of a possible 60 approx) and are judged on performance and horsemanship. These kind of competitions have become very popular in the USA and Cowboy Challenge has been embraced by New Zealand riders as it fits right in with this country's love of extreme sports.
The White Horse Cowboy Challenge was New Zealand's first Challenge, held in Gapes Valley, Geraldine on 27 February 2010. It was organised by the Aoraki Western Riding Club and attracted 31 adult and youth entries. Due to the success of this inaugural Cowboy Challenge and the interest in the sport thereafter, the New Zealand Cowboy Challenge Association Inc. was duly formed.
Clubs and individuals organise Challenges throughout the country, with approval and assistance from the NZCCA. The Association provides an official Rule Book, maintains points and oversees judge training, and has developed an official, competitive structure, enabling local, regional and national points approved Challenges to be held.
See "Downloads" page for Rules and Constitution; the Rule Book includes a list of obstacles that may be included in a Challenge.
Competitors start in the Rookie Class (or Youth for under 18 yrs) and points are allocated to a horse and rider combination for placings, based on how many are in a class. Once a combination reaches a certain number of points they progress to the next class. Horse and rider combinations registered for Hi Points are eligible for end of season awards, given for the most points over the season (riders must be NZCCA members).
NZCCA has a programme to train judges for New Zealand Challenges; each competition requires at least two official judges. See Judge Training and Requirements under "Downloads".