Jordan Sidwell, 4, hands a blue ribbon to Arielle Gold on Friday at the Hunter Under Saddle 11 to 13 English riding competition at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. Gold won the event atop her horse, Whole Lotta Gone.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Jordan Sidwell, 4, hands a blue ribbon to Arielle Gold on Friday at the Hunter Under Saddle 11 to 13 English riding competition at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. Gold won the event atop her horse, Whole Lotta Gone.

Routt County Fair bursts out of the gate with open horse shows

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The 2008 Routt County Fair schedule and more information are available at www.routtcountyfa.... Events continue through Aug. 17. Tickets for Thursday's Bellamy Brothers show and Friday's Demolition Derby are available at the Routt County Cooperative Extension Office in the Routt County Courthouse Annex on Sixth Street in Steamboat Springs and through Jill Delay at 276-3068.

— In a muddy arena under an overcast sky, riders guided their horses around cones Sunday. The crowd was slim, mostly family members, and soft country music wafted around the equestrians.

People in various age groups competed in the third day of the open horse show at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden. Riders as young as 2 hopped on animals, although adults led their horses for them. Four-year-old Jordan Sidwell said he enjoyed the contest.

"We got a medal," he said with a grin. "And a ribbon, too."

Older riders competed in Western performance riding in the morning and were set to participate in gymkhana in the afternoon.

"They're scored on their maneuverability skills with the horse picking up the leads at the right time," said Alicia Samuelson, who shares the role of show superintendent with Missy Wilhelm. About 80 people are competing in Routt County Fair riding events, which is typical, Samuelson said.

The weather has thrown the only wrench into the weekend's events, she said. Lightning cut short the English show on Friday, and contestants had to finish Saturday.

Lightning might have been a good omen for one participant, however. It's the name of Kelsey Samuelson's horse, and she took third place in her age group in Western riding Sunday.

Although the 18-year-old from South Routt gets butterflies before competing, she said she tries to come ready to ride. The judge doesn't tell the competitors what the course pattern will be until a few hours before the event.

"A good way is just to really work with your horse and know their strengths and weaknesses," Kelsey Samuelson said. "And then you can be prepared if you do get a different pattern than the one you're practicing with."

Liz Lyons, 17, said the mud didn't make the Western events tougher but could spell trouble for the faster gymkhana competition.

"It's going to be a lot harder," she said. "We're just going to have to take it easy and hope it gets better."

Fair Manager Jill Delay said officials make sure the arena is safe before they send riders out to race around.

"The rain is kind of putting a damper on things," she said Sunday morning. "If it holds off like it did yesterday, we'll be good. It will definitely affect the speed events."

The horse shows continue today with the 4-H English and gymkhana events, which start at 4 p.m. 4-H riders also compete all day Tuesday.

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