Youth ride their way into Ohio State Fair

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

Eight Lawrence County young people will take their best friends to the upcoming Ohio State Fair.

But rather than sightseeing or checking out the amusement rides, the youngsters hope they and their equine friends will bring home awards.

Nikki Cosner, Jesse Graybeal, Brianna Hairston, Meagan Hairston, Travis Jackson, Erica Sipe, Jenni Spradlin and Nick Whitley will compete for honors this weekend and early next week in the Ohio State Fair Horse show. They qualified

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for the opportunity at two area competitions in June.

For most, if not all, of the young people, the fascination with horses started when they were young.

“My family was into horses. I’ve been riding since I was a kid,” Graybeal said. He and his quarterhorse, Jody, will compete in two classes, barrels and cones and barrels.

Brianna Hairston agreed.

“Our family was into horses and one day I said, ‘hey, I want horses,’’” she recalled. With her horse, Saber Saws Champ, she will compete in two classes, poles and barrels.

It is more than livestock ownership, Cosner said. The bond between horse and rider is a friendship, a partnership.

“I just like being with them,” she said. “You’re in the barn with them and it’s a little home away from home. I’ve heard it said once that ‘the best thing for the inside of me is the outside of my horse.’ When I’m happy or sad, they know it. And they’re just loveable.”

Cosner will compete in two classes, also: Barrels and poles, with her horse, Dashaspeck. She, Sipe and Jackson have also qualified to compete in the ground roping competition.

Meagan Hairston, who will compete in poles as well as cones and barrels, said she is most looking forward to “just getting out there and running,” she said. “It’s exciting.” She will ride L.L. Double Dandy Rey.

Brianna Hairston confessed to being nervous, but just a little.

“I’m worried about going up and knocking something over,” she said.

Is there a secret to success at the state fair? Graybeal didn’t think so.

“You just go out there and do it,” he said.

The horses show competitions will be Thursday through Monday in Columbus.