The freshly watered county fairgrounds were broken in by 70 participants and their four-legged friends during the annual county fair.
While some horses relieved their nerves with neighs, whinnies and disobedience, one pair was calm and collected throughout the competition.
Alicia Heyblom, 14, patiently waited for her turn in the ring with her sidekick, Blackmailer. Blackmailer is one of six miniature horses in the Grand Haven resident’s club, the Mini Dreams Miniature Horse 4-H Club. The miniature horses stood out from the crowd of the regular-size horses that towered over them.
“I’ve been doing this for a while, so I know what to expect,” Heyblom said.
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The horse show included three separate competitions: showmanship, equitation and trail. After their numbers were called, the horses trotted alongside their human companion and were judged on obedience, execution of pattern and overall grooming.
4-H Program Coordinator Melissa Haug said that there was a significant increase this year in kids who came to the show.
Heyblom was calm and collected as the show went on. The incoming Grand Haven High School freshman said participants and their horses are often not given the pattern of where to lead their horses around the ring until show day, which adds difficulty to the competition.
“You never know until you get there,” she said.
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