young, talented riders as they take the audience on a
breathtaking journey through maneuvers and jumps that
few experienced riders can handle… all without the
aid of saddles or bridles. The EhCapa riders, ages 8
through 19, develop a unique relationship with their
horses based on sound horsemanship principles.
They control their mounts with leg cues, their voices,
and a one-inch wide leather strap around the horse’s
neck known as a “tack rein.” EhCapa believes that when
youngsters learn to build trust in the horses they love,
the results can be remarkable. The program emphasizes
commitment, patience with self, consistent practice,
active team participation and mentoring others.
The EhCapa Bareback Riders were created in 1956 as an
inexpensive way for children to ride and enjoy their
horses. EhCapa is a family-oriented horseback riding
club for boys and girls, and has performed all over the
West, including Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, British
Columbia, Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, and
even as far as Ohio. Most riders average 6 years with
The horses are of every shape, color, and breed, with no
specific qualification except that they are trained and
loved by the children who ride them. The group consists
of 40 - 50 motivated young people.
The routine varies from season to season, but always
includes an exercise at "Liberty" (a special drill
during which the “tack rein” is removed), pinwheels of
various dimensions, and a show stopping display of
jumping - in pairs, in small groups, and up to sixteen
abreast - that thrills the audience.
As the club’s style of riding is reminiscent of Native
Americans, the name Apache was selected to be spelled in
reverse, thus the name EhCapa. The organization rides in
the hope of bringing honor to Native Americans, from
their beautiful handmade clothing to the traditional
native symbols painted on the horses.
The EhCapa Bareback Riders have a 25-plus year history
with the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association).
An EhCapa Queen was once asked by a passer-by if she
could ride any horse in the group as well as she rode
her own. Her answer was characteristic and spoke for all
the members of the riding club. She said, "Every rider
in the club has a special relationship with his or her
own horse, and there isn't another one I'd rather be
EhCapa alumna Shelly Williams,
1999 Miss Rodeo America
said, "I learned valuable horse and life skills and am
convinced that it is because of EhCapa I was able to win
Miss Rodeo America."
EhCapa is a nonprofit, charitable organization and is
financed by its participation in horse-related events,
as well as through sponsors and fundraisers. Performance
fees are negotiated on the basis of number of
performances and distance traveled.