4-H Western Horse Show leads off Routt County Fair | SteamboatToday.com
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4-H Western Horse Show leads off Routt County Fair

Routt County Fair Queen Karyn Forbes, 15, with her horse, Bentley, relies on multi-flavored snow cones to get her through four days of competition in the hot August sun. Forbes and Bentley picked up several blue ribbons Aug. 15.
Tom Ross

The human contestants in the Routt County Fair Horse Show are in the midst of four-days of competition in the heat of the riding arena in Hayden, and that means snow cones.

Fair Queen Karyn Forbes, 15, said Aug. 15 that, in order to maintain the level of concentration needed to begin the preceding Friday with Ranch Horsemanship and carry through into Monday’s senior trail riding event, she drinks lots of water and eats lots of snow cones.

“I like banana, cherry, lime,” Forbes said. “All in one.”

Forbes and her horse, Bentley, 7, were doing pretty well in the Western Performance Classes Monday afternoon, picking up blue ribbons in Senior Western Pleasure, Halter, and Overall Gelding Halter classes.

Forbes gave some of the credit to her mother, Sandy Messing.

“I kind of stole Bentley from my mom,” she confessed.

Amber Elliott, who picked up a second-place ribbon in Senior Western Pleasure, was riding a 14-year-old gelding named Jake, who might not have been the showiest steed in the horse show but never lets his rider down. “He’s an all-around horse,” Elliott said.

Jake has a short body and legs that can give him a choppy lope in the arena, but don’t sell him short. Elliott has learned to compensate for that with her own skills. A rider can seem to smooth out her horse’s gait if she knows how to “sit on the horse.”

“Jake’s my best friend,” she said. “I know what to expect from him. He’s not going to blow up in the ring. He’s definitely been a special horse.”

Shannon Ragan, the 2015 fair queen, said her 18-year-old horse, Malibu, was, for many years, a barrel-racing horse. She had to teach Malibu to change leads and run through the different gaits demanded in Western Performance classes, and she was clearly proud of her horse.

Lacey Lewis, 19, on Lil’ Roxey Rein Maker, and Hallie Myhre, 17, on Ceecee, both won praise from the judge in the difficult Senior Trail Riding competition. The event approximates some of the physical barriers a horse and rider might encounter on a trail ride. The horses calmly side step parallel tree trunks, cross a wooden bridge and, finally, pivot and back precisely to allow their rider to open and close a rope gate.

Asked if all the riders and horses appeared to do a good job, Taylor Duzik, competition judge, agreed, but added that what separates the best horse and rider teams from the field is a high level of precision.

It comes down to “crisp, confident action and clean pivots,” she said.

For those who may be wondering if the horses at the county fair also get to refresh themselves with banana, cherry, lime snow cones, be assured: Their hydration levels are carefully monitored, but they stick to water.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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