COLUMBIA — Kids didn't need to have a real horse to race in the arena. They only needed an imagination.
Young riders galloped around the horse arena on stick horses or invisible horses — there wasn't even a stick horse requirement — Friday at the Boone County Fair.
As the race got underway, some of the riders didn't realize it was time to start, and they didn't make it far around the arena before turning around. Ava Beary, 6, lost the head of her stick horse and had to carry it for the remainder of the horse race.
But the race was about participating, not winning. And all of the participants walked away happy with a ribbon and a bag of prizes.
Terra Sapp of Ashland brought her four kids, who range in age from 2 to 9 years old, to participate.
"We play cowboys and Indians all the time, so it kind of fit," she said.
Erica Mallott came decked out in a saddle-seat riding outfit. Her mother, Leslie Mallott, said the 6-year-old has been in the stick horse race for five years now and has worn a different style of riding clothes each time.
The Mallotts own horses, but the horses are too old to ride. This is a way for their old riding outfits to be put to good use, and it gives Erica a chance to be in the arena, Leslie Mallott said.
"She enjoys it," she said. "Gives her something fun to do."