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Saddles 'n' Spurs 4-H show offers fun for horse riders

September 23, 2011

 Horses and fun were on the agenda at the Sept. 17 Open Fun Show sponsored by Saddles 'n' Spurs 4-H Club of Washington County.

The day started off with two walk-trot divisions. One rider, Ocoee Chapelle, said, "I've been looking forward to it ever since my riding instructor told me in May that I would be good enough to do it by now. So my goal was to work towards it and showing."

He said "the water carry was my favorite challenge because it's hard to steer your horse with one hand."  

Ocoee's day ended in a reserve champion trophy in the walk-trot timed division. He was very proud of his mount, Red Dee Albie, a horse rescued and retrained by C and M Farm after being abandoned by its owner.  

The junior divisions continued to smile through the Chinese fire drill and the tortoise and hare race despite the rain.

Lisa Bartell, a 4-H parent, said that one of the best things about the fun show is that "it gives the kids a chance to wind down from the serious show season and gives them a place where they can focus on friendship rather than competition."

The focus on friendships was best illustrated in the pairs division where teams had to work cooperatively to complete each event.

Individuals who came to the show without a partner were linked up with others by Laikyn Cook, a 4-H member who volunteered to do the registration and announcing.

In the end, everyone left with new friends.

"Saddles 'n' Spurs held its first fun show nine years ago," said LeAnn Johnson, organizational leader. "It helps the kids learn to make decisions, work together as a team, take on responsibility, and it especially helps them learn how to make things happen. These life skills are what 4-H is really all about."

As the club's Facebook administrator, Lilli Sutton was busy taking pictures rather than riding.  She said that having leadership responsibilities like this provide "opportunities that will help me be a photo-journalist some day."

Her mother added that, "being a member of 4-H has also helped her learn to be organized and develop her public speaking ability."

Bartell reiterated this point, "I love 4-H. It has helped Sophia overcome her shyness. It has given her confidence in herself, and it has motivated her to do her best in everything she does — especially school. God and 4-H are really helping her grow and develop."

So whether kids were handling the gate and ribbons (Rowan Chapelle and Stephanie Powers), cleaning up manure (Dan and Heidi Selders) or receiving their very first trophy (Mariah Chapelle), the event provided a forum for club members and the public to come together for lots of fun.  

And it was clear from the smiles on faces of riders such as Megan Hahn and Olivia Rich, walk division champion and reserve champion winners, that they were already looking forward to next year's fun show.

For more information, go to www.wchorsecouncil.org.

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