By Humphrey Carter

THE Wild West stampedes into town next week when Palma hosts the second Western Festival at the Bull Ring.
This year, after the huge success of the inaugural event last September, the five day Western festival is bigger and better featuring the award-winning Apassionata equestrian spectacular and a show by the French master horseman J.F. Pignon.

The programme for each of the four main days is pact with entertainment and excitement and the area around the Bull Ring will be converted into the Wild West with an Indian village, whisky bars and restaurants.

However, the Western Festival is not all fun.
Next week, some of the best Western riders in the world will be competing for the Majorcan Reining Trophy and prize money of 250'000 euros - one of the biggest purses in Europe.

Reining is the royal class of Western riding and is becoming increasingly popular across the world - it is bidding to become an Olympic sport for the 2012 games.

Nico Hörmann, the current German reining champion and ambassador for the Majorcan Western Festival was in Palma this week and he told the Bulletin that he is really excited about the competition and believes he has the best horse to win the title.

The average person would automatically presume that the Americans to even Australians would be the best Western riders in the world.
That used to be true, but as the discipline has become increasingly popular in Europe, in particular Germany, over the past decade, European riders are now able to hold their own.

Nico is also one of Germany's best known trainers and he believes that it will not be long before European riders can “kick the United States's arse”.
Standing at over six feet with a Stetson perched on his head and cowboy boots poking out from under his jeans, Nico certainly looks the part but he says that the horse plays a 70 or 80 percent role in the competition. “A good quarter horse takes at least five years top train, some may starting competing to gain experience after two of three years but they do not peak until they have a good five year experience,” he said. “The horses reach the point that they know the routine just as well, or even better, that the rider and that is why Reining is so much fun to do and extremely exciting to watch. “We spin the horses, skid across the ring, it's very technical but great fun. It's Western dressage but we encourage the crowd to get involved, they scream and shout for their favourite riders, there's a great deal of audience participation,” he added.

The festival opening ceremony is next Wednesday evening with a full programme events over the following four days.
Keep an eye on What's On for further information.