Fair reigns in the competition

Open horse show highlights weekend

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— The Routt County Fair kicks off today with an open horse show at 9 a.m. continuing through Sunday.

The open horse show is divided into four divisions: open class, ages 15-18, ages 12-14 and ages 11 and under.

The show and competition is based on the winner who accumulates the most points in each division.

"The show's pretty huge. Last year we had 623 entries. The pre-entries are up from last year. I'm predicting the show's gonna be bigger," said Dorinda Wheeler, co-coordinator for the open horse show.

Through several sponsorships, participants have the opportunity to win a trophy saddle, bronze statue or cash prizes. Open horse show means horses are not restricted to a particular breed or level to enter. These competitions begin at 9 a.m. Wheeler said people can enter their horses up until 15 minutes before the competitions begin.

"It's for all breeds, amateur to professional. It's for anyone and everyone," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said Saturday's events include many participants entering in more than one different category. The first competition is the halter classes where judge Terry Wegener of Bennett evaluates the confirmation of the horse the astute characteristics giving the image of an athletic horse.

Halter classes make up the first 14 classes divided into ages and gender for colts and stallions, fillies and mares and geldings.

These competitions are based on the horse's style and characteristics. The horse is not ridden, but led into the arena by its owner.

Beginning in the early afternoon, a showmanship class judging begins.

"The judge is judging the ability of the exhibitor to show the horse," Wheeler said.

Reigning and working cow horse tend to be grouped together because the same people enter each, although they are two separate events.

The horse and owner ride through a pattern of figure eights and circles. Working cow horse competition runs through a similar pattern, but uses a cow to show different abilities of the horse and rider.

Sunday's events begin at 8 a.m. with a Western Pleasure competition of rail classes and a Western Horsemanship competition where the judge evaluates the smoothness of the rider.

A trail class, judged by Jennifer Rowley of Steamboat Springs, presents an obstacle course to the horse and owner who ride through gates, over bridges and carry objects on the track in front of the grand stands.

The trail class runs all day, simultaneously with the other events. Wheeler said people have to fit the class in when and if they can.

After a Western Riding competition consisting of another pattern, three Gymkhana events occur. These are not judged, but timed events include barrel racing, pole bending and a stake race.

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