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Area youth compete in 4-H horse competition at Jefferson County Fair

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Youth horse riders competed through the rain to show off their skills Wednesday at the 4-H Horse Show at the Jefferson County Fair.

Entrants, all under 18 years old, were pushed through a number of riding, jumping and showmanship challenges.

Among the approximately 30 entrants was Amanda J. Beutel, 16, Adams Center, who competed on her 23-year-old quarter horse, Doc. Amanda said she had been competing in horse-riding events for two years.

“It’s a way to show all the work we put in, and who we really are,” she said.

Amanda pressed an ice bag against her hand and wrist, which she hurt in a fall while jumping the final hurdle during a practice run inside the horse corral at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

She said competitions have a much different feel than riding for fun.

“Everything gets a lot tenser,” Amanda said. “You just want to prove your horse is good.”

In the equitation competition, Amanda and Doc moved confidently through a handful of jumps on their first cycle through the course until Doc pulled away from the final jump, where they had fallen earlier.

On their second cycle through the course, the pair again moved through the initial jumps easily. Reaching the final hurdle, the two cleared it with ease, drawing a large cheer from Amanda’s mother, LuAnne M., and friends and fellow riders from Twisted Tree Stables, 15530 County Route 155.

Gregory J. Knapp, who was ring steward, said the event brought several benefits for entrants.

“It teaches the kids responsibility,” Mr. Knapp said. “They have to take care of these animals. It gives them a sense of competition.”

Though some riders had been participating such events for years, others had been involved in the sport for only a few months. During the judging for the showmanship competition, judge Wendy O. Soucy could be heard giving pointers to some of the younger challengers, with many of them immediately implementing the advice.

“It’s a learning experience,” she said. “You have to keep it positive, encouraging.”

The 4-H activities weren’t limited to horses Wednesday; the organization also held a cattle show for school-age children during the morning.

The final two portions of the horse competition, in the Western and Gymkhana categories, will take place today.

A full schedule of events for the fair can be found at http://wdt.me/NGueMD.



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