Horses step it up a notch at the showmanship event


XENIA — Gianna Prigge, a beginner in the western horse show at the Greene County Fair, may be new to the competition but if you saw her and her Rocky Mountain horse, Blossom, together, you’d think they had known one another forever.

Prigge, 11, competes at events with other 4-H members in the Saddle Up Your Horses group. One of her Tuesday events required her and her horse to follow and complete a repetitive pattern that both the rider and the horse have memorized to place in the easy gaited category.

But it’s not as easy as it looks as it can take months to train a horse to follow the grid.

Although Prigge and her chocolate horse might still be learning the ropes of showmanship, she and her friend and mentor, Katelyn Williamson, 15, like to practice for events together and talk shop about their horses. Williamson, and her palomino quarterhorse, Mazzie, encourage Prigge and six-year-old Blossom at all their 4-H events.

“It’s so fun,” Prigge said. “I get to be around horses and judges. The judges are really sweet and encouraging. Even friends I’ve just met, we cheer each other on. I want to learn all I can about horses and competitions and have a ranch some day.”

The panel of judges watch the gaited horses and judge the riders on how they handle the horse. how they sit the horse, and their equestrian skills. The 4-H members have to learn to pace themselves and their horses as events can take all day.

On Sunday Prigge entered the junior barrel racing competition. She and Blossom performed well and presented a unified front to win the first-place trophy. She’ll tell you that she’s done well since wearing her new leather belt which her aunt, Lynell Dyson, designed and made for her — complete with her initials carved into the leather. The belt was sent from Weatherford, Texas, and Prigge insists on wearing her “good luck” belt everywhere — especially competitions.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

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