Horse show boasts Western and English riding at Moffat County Fair | CraigDailyPress.com

Horse show boasts Western and English riding at Moffat County Fair

Youth horse show opens week of events at Moffat County Fairgrounds

Riders line-up for the start of the senior division of the Western Horsemanship class kickoff events at the 2016 Moffat County Fairgrounds.

— Dark clouds filled a lightning streaked sky at the 4-H & Future Farmers of America horse show delaying the official start of events at the Moffat County Fair Grounds in Craig Monday.

"It's raining like usual, so it's 4-H horse day at the fair," said J.D. Sexton, county extension director (4-H).

Children and young adults under the age of 19 compete in a variety of Western and English riding disciplines.

"We have about 20 horses today. This is about the same as last year," Sexton said.

Horses and riders of all sizes and shapes compete. It was Grady Anson's first time to compete on a saddle horse rather than the draft horses that he typically rides.

"I'm riding a 3-year-old colt. I've been working with him since May. So far so good," Anson said.

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Competitors do not need to own the horses that they ride. Arianna Anderson who won first place in junior showmanship competed in the show for the first time this year riding on her coach, Samantha Pearce's horse, a gelding called Paint.

"He's a very good boy. I'm saving any money that I win to buy my own horse," Anderson said, noting that the horse she has her heart set on is a 3-year-old colt named Too Lee. "He's a pony of the Americas. He's a little bit naughty and a little bit sweet.”

Anderson's western dress was topped off with a riding helmet. Since 2006, 4-H competitors have been required to wear certified equestrian helmets when competing in over the fence classes and gymkhana events. According to the Moffat County Fair book, "The state 4-H office encourages the use of ASTM certified/SEI approved safety helmets in all equine events. Protective headgear may be used in all classes and shall not be discriminated against."

"I would just assume kids always wear helmets," said Bonnie Coryell who was acting as the judge for the Western Trail ride event. "That's the case in English style riding. The western style and traditions are quite different."

"Helmets take away from the overall traditional appearance," said Sue Voloshin, whose family has lived on ranches for five generations. However, the ability of the horse and rider must be considered.

"Every horse is different. I would say it's important to get to know your horse better before riding at a show," said Sue's daughter, Payton, who had earlier won first place in the senior division for Showmanship.

"I prefer to wear a helmet in the speed events," said Payton. "Horses have their own minds and are unpredictable."

While he thinks that requiring the use of helmets all the time goes too far, Matt Cooper would like to see a chance for future fairs.

"I'd like to see a ranch horse versatility class added. I think it would be good for all kids to gain experience with horses first and then be able to learn how to work with cows on a horse," he said.

Ranch horse versatility competitions have been growing in popularity over the past decade with national competitions supported by organizations like the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Ranch Horse Versatility Association and the American Ranch Horse Association.

"They'd learn life skills and be able to take it to a more professional level," said rancher Justin Forbes.

The 4-H and FFA horse show ended Monday. Riders will be back in the fairgrounds arena on Wednesday evening for the Northwest Colorado Gymkhana Series.

Results for all of this year's events will be shared in a special section in the Sept. 30, 2016 edition of the Craig Daily Press.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow hear on Twitter @CDP_Education.