COLUMBIA — Samantha Lane, 10, of Brookfield said she felt great after winning a blue ribbon Sunday at the 4-H/FFA Horse Show at the Boone County Fair.
But, it took a lot of effort, she said.
“Sam’s work ethic has changed dramatically,” said James Wicks, her stepfather.
Samantha’s effort to prepare her favorite horse, Jack, for the show taught her responsibility, Wicks said. She spent up to three hours a day working with him and cleaning the stalls of the other horses on her family’s farm.
A third-generation 4-H member, Caitlin Reed, 11, of Hallsville, learned the value of a strong work ethic and to take responsibility for her animal’s care, said Gary Myers, her grandfather and a 4-H project leader.
Caitlin’s mother, Abby Reed, praised her as a “go-getter” as Caitlin glanced bashfully at her horse and went back to preparing for the competition.
Abby Reed studied "everything under the sun" when she was in 4-H, she said, and hopes Caitlin takes away important lessons, too.
4-H has changed since Brad Galloway was a young member. He said he misses camping in the stalls near the horses with the other youth. Now, his family has a sleeping area in their trailer.
Galloway has been riding horses for 40 years. His children, Julia and Clinton, have been on horseback since they were babies and have been in 4-H since they were 8, he said.
Julia Galloway, 13, won the barrel competition Saturday. Brad Galloway said he was amazed at the speed with which she wove her horse in figure eights around a series of barrels.
For Clinton Galloway, 18, riding horses is therapy for his autism, his father said. Clinton even has a favorite mule that his father called his “babysitter.”
Some in the audience didn’t have horses in the show but were avid fans.
Karen Craighead, a Columbia native now living in Fulton, developed her fascination with horses after watching "The Roy Rogers Show."
She was 12 when she got her first pony, Daisy May. The pony wasn’t broken to ride and it nearly killed her, she said. Her parents traded it for new upholstery. But Daisy May didn’t kill Craighead’s enthusiasm for horses.
Now, she teaches equestrian science at Stephens College and judges numerous horse shows, including six already this summer.
“You enjoy it so much it becomes a passion,” Craighead said “On your days off you go to horse shows. We do it because we enjoy it, not the money.”
Missouri is a great state for horse lovers. There are more than 250,000 horses in Missouri, Craighead said. That makes it the third in the nation, after California and Texas, she added.
Showing horses can be an expensive sport, and horses are a luxury for most families. The cost of a horse, trailer and trainer can exceed $60,000, Craighead said.
The recession hasn’t affected beginner-level shows such as this one as much because entry fees are lower, Craighead said.