The Boone County Fair’s 4-H/FFA horse show brought color to the arena as boys and girls in bright outfits competed on horseback.
Each year, 60 to 70 youths participate in the contest. This year, there were 61 trophies and ribbons in addition to the three buckle trophies given to the contestants with the highest number of points. Most participants entered more than one event.
Family members and friends sat down around the arena, enjoying beverages and food while cheering for the winners.
Rick and Brenda Clithero were standing with their 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, and her horse, Simba, whom Jamie has had for 10 years and is her oldest friend. Her father was clipping the horse’s whiskers and spraying him with coat conditioner to make him shinier.
Jamie has won many times at the fair. Her cousin Ethan Massey and his friend Mathew Ingebritson, both 15, also seemed confident about the day’s contests.
“I don’t know how many times I have won,” Mathew said. “I lost track because it has happened too many times.”
Last year, in the age 11-to-13 competitions, Mathew took first in the Western Equitation Class, third in the Western Pleasure Class and was the only contender to place in the Reining American Quarter Horse Association Rules Class.
Christi Miller, 37, a member of the committee responsible for organizing the show and hiring the judges and the workers, said that this show was not only about horses but also about commitment and dedication. The participants could earn points for keeping their stalls clean and providing water for the horses, so if they didn’t earn many points inside the arena, there was another way to gain them.
The show attracted many volunteers who felt a strong connection to the event even though their children no longer participated.
”I do it for the kids,” said Marcia Martin, 52. “I come to support them.”
When the Showmanship performance started for the 11-to- 13 age group, Jamie and Simba entered along with eight other girls and their horses. After working their horses before the judges, the participants lined up in the center of the arena. Jamie won first place. Jamie’s concern after the show was to go home and sleep. ”We are sleep-deprived,” she said, looking at Simba and patting him.
After the Showmanship event, it was time for the Western Pleasure Class, a contest where youths were judged on their ability to ride and control their horse. Jamie was again in the winner’s circle, taking first place in the 11-to-13 age group. Mathew came in first place in the 14-to-20 age group.
He didn’t seem surprised as he sat on his horse with pride.