Steamboat Springs The conditions were fit for neither man nor beast Sunday afternoon.
Participants in the Open Horse Show at the Routt County Fairgrounds tried not to wilt under the seething sun as they waited for their name to be called.
"It's so hot," Kacey Bull said, sighing, as she shifted in her saddle. Her horse, Dial Maggie, tossed his head as if to second her observation.
Bull, 11, had a few minutes to wait until riders in the age 11 and under division were called to compete in pole bending.
Pole bending was just one of the gymkhana-inspired events open to children and adults that demanded speed, technique and agility from horse and rider.
Bull and her friend, Krystina Wheeler, 11, rattled off the list of events they competed in over the two-day event that began Saturday morning.
Barrel racing, stake race, western pleasure, western horsemanship and trail classes made the list.
The girls fared well in their rides.
"There's a lot of competition and also a lot of fun," Bull said.
The two young riders can look forward to more competition and more fun because the open horse show serves as the kickoff to the 88th annual Routt County Fair and Rodeo, which runs until next Sunday.
The open horse show is the forerunner to 4-H events that conclude Saturday evening with the junior livestock sale.
"This is pretty much like practice," 12-year-old Jason Kvols said matter-of-factly.
But he and his chestnut quarterhorse mare, Georgia, got a lot out of practice. The duo placed first in reining in the age 11 and under division Saturday.
Kvols took some inspiration from his horse trainer, Devin Warren of Colorado Springs.
"He was on the cover of Western Horseman," Kvols said.
Warren didn't think his young charge would take such a liking for reining, but Kvols proved otherwise.
He said he likes reining because it requires a great amount of practice and training.
Many parents opted to be out in the sun with their children rather than sit in the shady stands.
They offered last-minute advice before their children took to the dusty arena and sometimes provided a little coaching from the side.
Scott Gansmann was all smiles as he watched his daughter navigate her horse, Red, through the poles.
Hunter Gansmann, 7, was one of a handful of pint-sized riders who took part in the competition.
Forest Yeager, whose daughter, Shaelynn, competed in the open horse show Saturday and Sunday, was pleased by the behavior and attitude of all the young competitors.
"It's a long day for all of them," she said. "But they are all really supportive of each other."
Relief from the hot sun eventually came in small packaging for Bull, Wheeler, Kvols and their fellow riders.
Tim Appel, who is operating a concessions stand at the fairgrounds, decided to empty his freezer of some extra ice cream sandwiches and popsicles.
"Anybody want some ice cream?" he asked.
It was an offer the hot and thirsty riders couldn't refuse.