BRECK J. HAPNER
It turned out to be quite a week for the Delaware County Junior Fair Horse Show. The wet, muddy conditions due to the constant rain postponed and cancelled most horse show events throughout the fair week, although trail, reigning, pattern and versatility classes were able to squeeze in class competitions Tuesday and Thursday in the practice ring, north of the main ring on the fairgrounds.
“This is the wettest fair I’ve ever been through and I’ve been a 4-H advisor for 24 years,” said Jon Melvin, president of the Delaware County 4-H Horse Advisors Committee. “But the show will go on.”
The 4-H riders each were competing for High Point awards culled from multi-faceted contests such as Reining Pattern, Speed and Control, Pole Bending and a combination of Cones and Barrels, all of which were made difficult on both horse and rider by the delays and inclement weather.
On Saturday, the final classes in all three age groups were held outside the fairgrounds at the Reality Run indoor arena on U.S. 42N, finalizing the event. Ten 4-Hers won coveted High Point awards for achieving the highest number of points distinctive to their particular class. They include Bethany Rannebarger, from the Cowboy Convoy 4-H Club, who won the Beginner (all ages) High Point class; Rachel Russell, Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club, Junior (ages 9-11) English High Point class; Alexandra Armbruster, JJ’s E-Z Riders 4-H Club, Intermediate (ages 12-14) English High Point class; Sara Dantuono, JJ’s E-Z Riders, Senior (ages 15-18) English High Point class; Samuel Smallets, Cowboy Convoy, Junior Western High Point class; Claire Chatterton, JJ’s E-Z Riders, Intermediate Western High Point class; and Samantha Armbruster, JJ’s E-Z Riders, Senior Western High Point class. Also Maggie Cain, Barrels, Rails & Such 4-H Club, Junior Contest High Point award; Ryleigh Fisher, Wild Riders 4-H Club, Intermediate Contest High Point award; and Lenora Boyer, Barrels, Rails & Such, Senior Contest High Point award.
The established event rhythm is very important and the rainy, muddy conditions showcased how well the horses and riders were trained, navigating through adverse elements to display how well each could remember various patterns as well as completing an intricate set of specific movements.
“My horse is only 5 years old, and although he was skittish at first about the rain, he really pulled through and I’m proud of him,” said Bethany Rannebarger, 14, a freshman at Big Walnut High School. “I think training him myself formed a close relationship that helped through the bad weather.”
Trotting and cantering, galloping, speeding up and down, backing up and circling are all quite difficult to accomplish in the mud. Moving through cones, poles and barrels in the rain demand special agility and conformation.
“I trained every day, six days a week,” said Claire Chatterton, 14, also a freshman at Big Walnut. “My horse and I worked on everything, like patterns, showmanship and horsemanship. When the weather is nasty, this makes a real difference.”
Alexandra Armbruster, 14, a freshman at Big Walnut, said that it had rained even during the state qualifying show before the fair, but her horse acted composed through the entire event. “I was nervous at the beginning of the Delaware County Fair Junior Horse Show, but once I got into the arena, I was fine.”
“My horse was a trooper,” said Sara Dantuono, 17, who attends Olentangy High School. “He stuck by me in the rain and mud and I’m very proud of him. It’s hard because the horse can’t do its best when sliding around. The bad weather made us all focus and it increased the trust between ourselves and our horses.”
Sara was grateful for the effort that was put into the show, pointing out that even though many events were rained out, through all the mud and mess, the riders and horses came together. “I especially want to thank Jon Melvin, who worked tremendously hard to accommodate everyone. We all really appreciated his effort.”
“We’ve never had to move events off the fairgrounds,” said Melvin. “Everybody was understanding, patient and willing to keep working so this event could happen. It was great. Everybody pitched together.”