By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
The Rockin' to the Hoofbeats Musical Horse Exhibition drew only four participants Sunday, but that didn't stop the equestrians from getting down.
Donna Deatherage, clad in a gold pantsuit, and riding her horse "Aspen" to the tune of "Do you love me," won the first-ever musical horse exhibition, but she didn't accept the grand prize.
The grand prize of a halter and lead rope, donated by Horses Etc., was given to her daughter Calie, who placed second in the exhibition.
The elder Deatherage refused the prize since she organized the exhibition, and decided only to participate at the last-minute.
The concept of a musical horse exhibition came from Deatherage's love of freestyle-reigning, which was the premier event at this year's National Western Stock Show in Denver.
While the musical horse exhibition maintains the basic rules of its parent competition, it is looser in what movements must be executed.
"In freestyle reining, there are a number of movements that have to be done, such as flying-lee changes and sliding stops," Deatherage said. "In hoofbeats, it's more open and there are no mandatory movements."
The contestants of the musical horse exhibition were judged in five different categories: Audience appeal, overall presentation, music/horse compatibility, technical difficulty and basic horsemanship.
This year's event was judged by Kathy Simpson, Sharon Skwarek and Lane Osborn, all of whom have a background in horsemanship.
This year's exhibition had riders steering their horses namely to the beat of county music, with selections by Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, and The Charlie Daniels Band being played.
The music was accompanied with not only horse dancing, but with costumes as well.
Every participant in this year's exhibition used their artistic license to the max with their own garb and their horses garb as well. One four-legged equestrian wore a black cowboy hat.
The exhibition was consider a success by all, but they are hoping for a larger turnout for next year's event.
"We just got such a late start this year," Deatherage said. "Next year, we hope to get to more advertising angled toward the participants, hopeful we can get around 14 or 15 to come out."
Deatherage looks to draw in more participation from local 4H clubs and younger children who are involved in horsemanship.
"It's a great way for kids to show off their riding skills, and gives them another event to compete in over the course of the year."