EVART — Horse riding brought out skilled riders to the Osceola County Fair on Tuesday.
“I have always been envious of the 4H kids,” said judge Judi Campbell. “I never could do the pleasure riding competitions like them. I always did jumping, so it just wouldn’t have been pretty to look at.”
Though she had to place the kids, Campbell was pleasantly surprised with the skill level of the riders and their horses.
“They were all really good riders,” she said. “You could tell everyone had a strong and good connection with their horse.”
One of the riders, Ashley Pollaski, stood out when it came to her riding technique.
“She rode like she was much older,” Campbell said. “If I had to hire someone to ride my pony, I would hire that kid. It helps that her pony was well behaved, too.”
Another rider that stood out to Campbell was Nora Burnosky, the only English rider of the day.
“Her horse still has a little too much western in her to do English and clearly does not like to do the western riding,” said Campbell. “But (Nora) stood out because she did really well with keeping the horse in check and getting things under control when her horse showed resistance or refused to do something.”
Earlier in the day, before the first course, Burnosky expressed her horse’s attitude to the western riding.
“She has an attitude, that’s for sure,” she told a group of other riders. “I want to do more western, but when I try it with her, she just does not want to do it. I just kind of have to say, ’Okay, no more of that.’ So we just do English for right now.”
A third rider that has only been competing in the 4H circuit for four years, Rebekah Battle, explained why she decided to start doing the more leisurely paced competitions versus strictly doing the jumping and speed.
“It forces me to slow down and think about what I am doing,” explained Battle, whose horse, Jasmine, has really only done the faster-paced competitions. “(Jasmine) always thinks we are just going to start going like she is used to, that’s why when she goes through the gate at first, she is a little wild.”
Reflecting on her last year in the 4H showings, Battle felt she could have worked with Jasmine a little more but is proud of how the two of them did in the ring.
“I totally could have taken her out more and worked with her more last night and early today and focused less on exercise and more on teaching her how to pick up her leads,” said Battle. “But for a speed horse, I think she and I did really well.”
Battle ended with comparing the two different types of competition.
“There are clear differences, but I think I want to focus on a major comparison,” said Battle. “When I am riding speed and jumping, there is a definite thrill of excitement that I feel way in my gut the entire time I am riding. I like that I still get that feeling right before doing this.”