COLUMBIA — As five large American Saddlebred horses are lined up and readied for competition, their hooves slow down. A competitor has problems getting her horse to stop because of the distinctive extended trot of the breed.
Two children peek their heads over the white cement fence of the arena, wide-eyed and transfixed by the horses' motions. Their mother tries to pull them away from the show, but they hold onto the fence, reluctant to leave.
The Boone County Fair Society Horse Show has been in full swing throughout the week, and horse lovers from around the country have come together to spend their time at the fair talking to old friends, meeting new ones and showing off their horses.
“It’s a long-standing tradition,” show manager Tracy Mulligan said. “It’s a staple of the Boone County Fair. So many people come back each year just to see the show. It helps people get a little insight into the horse industry and horse shows in general.”
The horse shows drew many viewers throughout the week. Competition began Thursday night and featured 101 different class competitions over the next few days. Horses are divided into "classes" depending on things such as breed and style.
“I really like the excitement of coming to the fair. It’s nice to show people who don’t usually show horses what they are all about,” Jefferson City resident Julianne O’Bannon said. “This fair’s different because you get kids coming into the barn who have never seen a horse before.”
Carma Bushnell’s children grabbed onto the stall door and stare into the eyes EZ, a chestnut horse at the end of the line of stalls. The kids wondered why he’s so small compared to the other ones.
“We don’t think about a lot of things we do,” said Carol Jones, a trainer at American Acres in Little Rock, Ark. “Like when we put Vaseline on their nose or hoof black on their hoofs. It’s interesting to show people what goes into showing.”
Many of the competitors have been at the horse show since Thursday. Saturday was the last round of classes, and many of the competitors will be packing up their tack, horses and trailer and heading back home to rest before the next show on their summer itinerary.
“It’s a great family event that people can come and enjoy," Mulligan said. "It’s good clean family fun … well most of it’s clean; you can get a few dirt clods on you."