Even at the wire Saturday, Trae Reuwer did not know for sure who thevictor was.
The 9-year-old Glenelg resident was racing in the small pony division of the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds Race Meet with his bay mare, Mouse.
"She doesn't like the flag waving (at the start), so I stayed away from the flag, and when she took off she went really fast," Trae said.
About midway through the .3-mile contest, Mouse pulled abreastof the leader, Natalie, a pony ridden by Kelly Conaway of Taylorsville. They battled mightily to the finish, which Mouse won by a whisker.
The victory was part of the 50th running of the meet. The event,held at Meriwether Farm in Glenelg, drew more than 100 riders competing in seven races. Most riders were from Maryland, but some came from Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The race is one in a series of point-to-point races in which horses and riders race across fields and hills, and sometimes over jumps, from one point to another. The races typically raise money for fox-hunting clubs.
Nowhere Saturday were the battles as hard fought as in the various divisions of the Cattail River Junior Races.
After being edged out in the small pony division, Kelly Conaway had her revenge in the medium division, where she fought it out with another Reuwer, Trae's 11-year-old sister, Megan.
The race became a two-pony contest as Kelly on Garfield and Megan onVillage Vickers hooked up early and streaked toward the finish. At the wire, it was Garfield by a nose.
"Garfield went faster with theother pony running right beside him," Kelly said.
Howard residentShannon Daugherty was a first-time starter in the Junior Horse division aboard her handsome Overdrive, a bay thoroughbred racing for the first time.
Shannon, a 12-year-old who attends Glenwood Middle School, and Overdrive were making their debut outside a show ring.
"That was cool," enthused Shannon after finishing sixth in a large field. "My horse loved it."
Although Shannon had spent all of her timeriding in a show ring until this experience, she comes by racing naturally.
Her mother, Paula, grinned as she walked Overdrive to coolhim after the race, and recalled that she had participated in point-to-point races 20 years ago.
"It's good for kids to do more thingswith their horses than just walk, trot, canter and jump in a show ring," she said.
Meggan Brown and Freebee, who finished fifth in thesmall-pony division, were another young rider and pony team making their debut.
Meggan, who just turned 13 with her twin sister, Leathy, has had other experience outside the show ring, however, as a member of the Howard Pony Club Games team, which went to the Prince Philip Games last Fall. Freebee was her games pony and will now be her race pony.
"That was fun," Meggan said while cooling out her paint mare. "She wasn't quite sure what to do at the start, but once she got going, she really ran fast."
Meggan's mother, Anne, made custom silks for Freebee in shades of pink and turquoise. The pony was groomedto a fare-thee-well with her fuzzy mane nicely pulled and a ribbon braided in her tail.
All the hard work paid off as Anne Brown won the groom's prize of $25.