• 32°

Deering girl and her horse take home top prize at fair

DEERING -- While they were remodeling their house on the inside and out, members of the Adkins family also spend time feeding, exercising and cleaning stalls for the seven family members that live in a barn.

"Yuck!" exclaimed Kelly Adkins.

Nevertheless, the work paid off when 14-year-old Aubrey won a first-place award at the Ohio State Fair last month.

"I'm always proud of my daughter," Kelly Adkins said. "Her father and I were very thrilled -- and shocked."

On July 27, the Dawson-Bryant High School freshman and her horse, Willy Pen, took home the state's top award in pole bending -- an event which involves the participant and their horse whipping through six poles that are 21 feet apart as fast as possible.

Aubrey and her 11-year-old quarter horse finished in 22.4 seconds.

"It was a rush," she said. "It was different competing in Columbus because I was in an indoor arena and there were more people there."

The night before the competition, Aubrey said she and Willy were both nervous -- she because of the competition, and Willy because of his trip to Columbus.

"He doesn't like being hauled," she said.

"City traffic is very different for him," added Kelly.

However, Kelly said she began to relax when her friends from Lawrence County and her family arrived to cheer for her.

After Aubrey's ride, others kept getting close to her score, also making her nervous.

When her family and friends from Lawrence County arrived at the fair her nerves were eased, Aubrey said.

"My Uncle Frank was my biggest cheerleader," she said. "People there thought he was my father because he was cheering so much."

When her name was called, she momentarily stopped breathing --thanks to her uncle.

"He hit me on the back and made me lose my breath," she said.

Shelly Waller, chairwoman of the 4-H Horse Committee and adviser for the Deering Riders, was also pleased.

"They've all worked really hard," she said. "There were six kids in the county who went to the state and three of them placed. This is really good for 4-H in Lawrence County."

"Our advisers are really nice," Aubrey added. "They come and support all of the kids."

Aubrey has been riding horses since age two.

"They're just a blast," she said. "It's a challenge to break them."

Her latest horse to break is a two-year-old filly.

"Missy follows me around like a big ole' dog," Aubrey laughed. Amelia Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune