For the novice rider to the Gymkhana Games let us explain what this sport is all about.
The word gymkhana is said to have originated from the words "gym" for athletic events and the East Indian word "khana" for court or an area where events are held. To a native East Indian, a gymkhana is usually referred to as an elite sports club facility which host events like lacrosse tournaments.
Gymkhana has become somewhat of a generic term for games and pattern racing with horses, motorcycles, or automobiles. Gymkhana on horseback usually involves speed through varying courses and/or obstacles. Many of these events require the utilization of props in the form of flags, lances, balls, or batons. Whether run on lawn or dirt, a mounted rider may be required to maneuver around or through stakes, cones, barrels, chalk lines, jumps, or lanes.
The NSCA has 37 approved events listed in the rule book. All the events, plus a description of each event can be found in this book.
For those who are just learning all events are run in 30 foot lanes, with four lanes in the arena. At the end of the lane is the turning line. Almost every event has at least one property positioned on the turning line. On other events any exchanges must take place behind the turning line. Any time the word "property" is used, it refers to any item used during an event, for example, barrels, poles, flags, are all "properties."
Here are some examples of the events of the rule book:
Arena Race: all ages Left or right turn around pole.
Graduated Barrel & Stake: all ages Left or right turn around barrels picking up stakes from first barrel and depositing them in second barrel with each pass. One stake for under 8, two for 8-11 & three for all other age groups.
Cloverleaf Race: all ages Contestant may go to either right or left barrel first, but must make one left turn and two right turns, or one right turn and two left turns.
Figure Eight Stake Race: all ages Contestant races to stake on turning line, making a left or right hand turn, races to second stake and makes opposite turn, then returns to stake on turning line, repeating first turn, then races across finish line.
Flag Race: all ages A flag is placed in a gallon can of sand and centered on a barrel on the turn line. Contestants race around barrel, pick up the flag and race to the finish line with the flag in hand
Four In a Row: teams of four Contestants ride behind each other weave the poles, around outside of barrel pattern and weave back through the poles. Last ride must completely circle the last pole before crossing finish line
Half Eight Race: all ages Contestant rides between the poles before crossing the turning line, makes a left or right turn and races back to finish line.
Keg Race: all ages Rider weaves buckets down, turns last bucket and weaves back toward the finish line.
Key Race: all ages Contestant races between the stakes, across the turn line, turns and reverses course back between the stakes to the finish line.
Pole Bending: all ages Contestants race to last pole first, make a right or left turn, waving through post and back again, then race back across the finish line.
Polo Turn: all ages Rider runs to pole makes a complete circle (one and a half revolutions) to the left or right and returns to finish line.
Speed Barrels: all ages Contestant weaves barrels down, turns last barrel and weaves back to the finish line. Rider may make a right or left turn.
Straight Barrels: all ages Contestant runs to first barrel and proceeds to circle each barrel to the left or right, turns past the last barrel and reverses course.
Western Jumping: all ages Contestant races to jump, jumps over jump weaves poles down, turns last pole, weaves poles back, and jumps the jump before crossing finish line.
Tomahawk Race: all age groups A barrel, open end up is centered in the lane 30 feet from star/finish line with a second barrel, open end down is on the turn line. A "tomahawk" (rubber hose or flat rubber cut in the shape of a tomahawk) is placed on top of barrel on the turn line, extending six inches from edge of barrel. Contestant races to second barrel, picks up tomahawk and races to first barrel, depositing tomahawk into barrel.
Two Barrel Flag: 8-11, 12-15, Women, Men, Sr. Women, Sr. Men A barrel, open end up is centered in the lane 30 feet from star/finish line with a second barrel, open end up is on the turn line. A stake with a colored flag is placed in each barrel (different color in each barrel) Contestant runs to first barrel (in lane) and picks up that flag then runs to the second barrel, deposits the first flag and picks up the second flag as he/she turns the barrel. Rider must then deposit the second flag into the barrel (in lane) as he/she passes it on the way to the finish line. Rider must keep barrels to either right or left at all times.