For the love of horses: 2018 Routt County Fair opens with equine events | SteamboatToday.com

For the love of horses: 2018 Routt County Fair opens with equine events

HAYDEN — What 14-year-old Emily Howe takes home after Monday’s 4-H Senior Western Pleasure class at the Routt County Fair will be more meaningful than any ribbon or trophy.

"It doesn't matter if I fall off or whatever happens. At the end of the day, I just need him to know how grateful I am for just being here today," said Emily about her horse, Dually, a quarter horse-Arabian mix. "If the worst happens, the worst happens. There's not much you can do to fix it."

This weekend's open horse show was a test of patience for horse and rider as Dually was spooked by the rain jacket one of the classes required and then refused to enter the ring for another class.

"No matter what he did or what he spooked at, she’d stay calm and in control the whole time," said Lynn Howe, Emily's mother. "Her maturity in a difficult situation has been incredibly impressive, and I'm just so proud of her. She does this because she loves it — it's never been just about winning. It's because she loves the horses."

This particular show was also Emily’s first time showing Dually in the senior western riding class at the Routt County Fair. The class required her and the horse to follow a pattern showcasing the horse's change of leads and gait transitions.

"I try to work hard — some days are good, some days are bad," she said. "You just have to realize it's about what the judge likes that day, and it's out of your hands how you place."

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On Monday, Emily, a member of the Yampa Valley Pony Club, said Dually showed improvement from the day before and flowed through the pattern.

"Being nervous isn't worth it. You just have to go out there and try your best." Emily explained. "Because really, you've worked way too hard to just bail."

Riding English for two years and western for seven, Howe often rides as early as 5 a.m. sunrise or as late as 9 p.m.

"Ever since I was born, I knew I wanted to ride horses," Emily continued. "I've never been scared of them. When I'm riding, anything that's bothering me just doesn't matter anymore. When it's still and quiet during those early or late rides — it's like heaven."

"We are not a horse family," Lynn said. "She was born a horse girl. This is her life and her future."

The Routt County Fair continues all week in Hayden. A full schedule can be found here.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1.