Youngsters prepare horses for competition

Jefferson County 4-H Horse Projects will present its annual horse show 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 26 at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds horse arena.

The show runs contiguous with the Jefferson County Fair, which will have opened just the day before.

The horse show will feature about 15 local youth participating in competitive contests, some with multiple horses. Some participants without horses have produced equine-related exhibits which will be judged on the day before and available throughout the week in the Activities Building.

4-H Horse Projects superintendent and project co-leader Kolby Freeman has been working with kids and staff since early May to prepare them for the annual event. Regular practice sessions allow participants to learn what to do during the show and give animals a chance to get more comfortable in the show environment.

?My biggest thing is that you have to be safe before you can show your animal,? she said. ?So if your animal is pretty spooky or they haven?t been anywhere, they?ll get pretty nervous and antsy in an unfamiliar situation. So that?s what the practices are for. To get your animal out so they can see what they?re going to be doing at some point.?

Freeman is in her second year as superintendent of the horse projects. She is responsible for maintaining facilities adequate to the needs of the horse projects. She also guides and teaches the kids and acts as a contact to 4-H for the parents and grandparents of kids in the program.

?I?ve had a horse since I was 10 years old,? she said. ?I was in 4-H, so I showed here at the county fair. I had a pony and showed her for a couple of years and then I got a bigger horse and showed her. Then I showed for FFA.?

Freeman went on to obtain a bachelor of science degree in Equine and Animal Science from North Dakota State University. She participated on the college rodeo team as a barrel racer.

Sixteen-year-old Paige McCoy, a Fairfield High School student who got her first horse at age 5, has been participating in the 4-H horse projects for five years.

Paige has several horses in competition for the show.

?With my horse that I?ve been working with now, we do western pleasure. He?s meant for just show. I also work with a barrel horse, which I have here,? she said.

Her dad Lucas McCoy added, ?We have five head here. I?ve got another daughter, Tayia, with a little pony out there. We?ve got all but one horse here.?

When asked how much time she puts into working with horses, Paige laughed.

?I spend about half of my time with the horses. The rest I spend with my cows and goats which I also show, so my whole life involves animals,? she said.

McCoy lives and works on a family farm where she is responsible for taking care of the animals. She very much wishes to continue working with animals after high school.

Her goal for the show is to achieve the title Jefferson County Cowgirl Queen, which would qualify her for the Iowa State Fair.

?I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life. One day I?d like to do professional barrel racing,? she said.