Fair a learning experience for horse competitor

Karissa Thompson and her horse Cole performed for their first time at the Polk County Fair.

RICKREALL — When Karissa Thompson started riding 10 months ago, she had no idea that she would participate in the 4-H Horse Show with her horse, Cole, at the Polk County Fair.

Thompson, 14, was encouraged by her trainer to give the multi-day showcase a try. She’s pleased with the results.

“Not too bad,” Thompson said of her performance, “better than I thought I would do.”

Cole, a 17-year-old flea-bitten gray, relaxed in his pen Saturday afternoon after the competitions were over, steadily munching from his feed bag as Thompson talked about their experience in the arena.

Thompson and Cole participated several events throughout the weekend: Novice (first-year) performance showmanship, junior walk-trot western, novice western equitation, and gaming events, key race, flag race and figure eight.

Thompson said the showmanship event had her leading Cole from the ground through an assigned pattern.

She was judged on leading, turning, standing, backing, stopping and use of the lead.

“This shows that you can control the horse from the ground,” Thompson said.

Other events had her demonstrating her newly learned riding skills and control from the saddle.

She earned a blue ribbon in novice western equitation, and said she learned a lot from her first fair. Thompson said judges gave her instructions on how to improve her posture in the saddle and to use a different style bit for better control.

She said her trainer is her older brother’s girlfriend.

“She has horses, so I asked her if she could teach me how to ride,” Thompson said. “I love. It is the best thing in the world.”

Thompson plans to return to fair next year.

“Horse riding is a lot of fun,” she said.

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