The kids love Gymkhana. It is impressive to watch kids who could barely ride at the beginning of the trek, canter and control horses around barrels... wow.... Most of the kids participate and it is pretty darn cool. The adults also participate which makes it fun for us older folks. However, no one is forced into it. I have had adults elect to not do it. I also usually have about one kid every trek elect to not do it too. You can encourage them, but some times a kid will put on the brakes and refuse. For the kid who refuses, I usually hand them my extra camera, give them some pointers with regards to photography and make them the photographer. Hey, I might as well put them to work and give them something to do.
At the end of Gymkhana, the kids get to do a "round-up." The first time, when we were in the South Country, they released cattle. The kids chased the cattle in the arena. The cattle knew the drill. They ran, the kids gave chase and the cattle ran back into their holding pen. The crew is timed on how quickly they can get the cattle into their pen. In the North Country, they released donkeys. It was the same drill as above. Both times, it was a lot of fun and a great experience.
If you can, during your trek, try to find time to practice cantering and barrel patterns. It helps if the kids have some experience on a fast moving horse. Other than that, have fun. The first year, we got thoroughly beaten. It was a ton of fun and the kids didn’t care. The second year, we thoroughly beat our Sister Crew. It was a ton of fun and the kids didn’t care. Tell the kids that they need to attend with good attitudes and a willingness to cheer and clap for everyone, including the Sister Crew. Hopefully, your Sister Crew will do the same.
Oh, and if your Crew does win the Gymkhana, it is totally appropriate to share the watermelon prize with your Sister Crew.