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Horse show returns to kick off event

ROME TOWNSHIP — Following a one-year absence, the imprint of hooves and horseshoes returned to kickoff the 2009 Lawrence County Fair.

Nine youngsters and their horses demonstrated their showmanship and handling skills in front of the judges and those in attendance Saturday at the 2009 Lawrence County Junior Fair Horse Show.

The event made its return after being cancelled last year due to wet and unsafe conditions following heavy rain.

Exhibitors were able to compete in nine different classes including halter, leadline, barrel racing, walk/jog pleasure and pole bending.

Show organizer Dee Staley said the inclusion of many different disciplines allows exhibitors to see the variety horse shows can offer.

“We encourage the kids to try different things,” Staley told the audience between breaks.

Besides showing off their horsemanship and riding skills, participants were able to get valuable instruction by longtime horse show judge Sonny Hall.

Hall, who has judged the annual event for seven years, took the time to give each exhibitor tips on what judges look for while in the ring.

He also promoted the numerous benefits of horse interaction and the positives horse shows can install on youth.

“You got to have it in your heart, you have to want to win,” Hall told a group of four exhibitors lined up in the middle of the arena following the show’s halter class. “You don’t have to have the best equipment or the best horse, but you have to have the best heart. Showing horses is fun.”

Mixed into some of the traditional classes were fun events for both exhibitors and patrons alike.

The “spoon and egg” class gave participants the opportunity to show their steady hands while riding around the arena with an egg balanced on a spoon.

Stephen Orengo bested three others to win the event.

Another crowd favorite was the costume class where riders and their horses dress up in a particular theme and are voted on by the applause level of the crowd.

Sisters Shea and Morgan Willis tied for first in winning the event.

Shea and her horse were outfitted like a princess while Morgan and her horse played the role of a Native American, even having feathers intertwined into her horses braided mane.

There even was fun for the adults.

The judges called a “spur of the moment” adult western pleasure class that got three riders including Staley.

After much deliberation, Hall awarded each with a green sixth place ribbon, despite only three participants in the class. Hall’s placing got a big laugh from the crowd.

The show closed out with an apple bobbing race where teams of two went against the clock to bob for and transfer an apple to their partner without having it drop out of their mouths while racing back to the finish line.

At the conclusion of the show, Hall took some time to remind everyone the importance of horses at county fairs, especially the Lawrence County Fair.

“I encourage each of you to push for a nice barn for the horses,” Hall said when addressing the crowd on the condition of the fairground’s horse stalls. “There is nothing better than horses and kids.”

Exhibitors who participated in the show were: Stormi Webb, Katie Webb, Morgan Willis, Shea Willis, Stephen Orengo, Sarah Day, Tiffany Quarder and Samantha Quarder.

Also recognized was 10-year, 4-H member Sarah Johnson who was awarded a $500 scholarship from the fair’s horse show committee. Johnson is a pre-pharmacy major.

Each exhibitor received a free nylon halter from Cooke’s Farm Center.