WEST FRIENDSHIP — Carroll County riders swept the top honors in one of the most difficult divisions at the first show put on by the newly formed Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association.
Heather Gee of Taylorsville, Kim Foreman of Woodbine and Jason Wiles of New Windsor each won a class in the Western Command division Sunday at the Howard County Fairgrounds here.
In a Command Class, the show announcer relays the judge's commands to the riders over the loudspeaker. The riders must immediately cuetheir horses to execute the new command.
A horse is eliminated when it does not execute the command, either on time or correctly. The last horse remaining that executes a command correctly is the winner.
"This mare is just so well broke that she can do anything," said Gee of her mount Straw Diver. "I didn't expect to have to lope in a small circle, but that was no problem for her.
"We hardly ever pivot on the front end, but when I asked her to, she did it. Her best thing in this class, though, was the counter canter."
Gee competed inthe division for riders 18 years old and over.
In a counter canter, the rider asks the horse to canter on the lead opposite what the rider would usually ask for, given the direction the horse and rider are headed.
It is a difficult maneuver, mentally and physically, for the horse to execute. Asking for a counter canter usually will determine the winner of a Command Class, but in Straw Diver's class she still had to work for first place honors.
Although Gee rode Straw Diver in the Command Class, the 8-year-old mare is owned by Winfield Elementary student Shannon Hueg, 8, whose love for her gorgeous quarter horse mare was evident.
What's the mare's best maneuver, Gee wasasked.
"Everything!" piped up Hueg, showing a huge grin.
Hueg and Straw Diver "had fun" in their youth classes during the day. "She's always so sweet," says Hueg.
Another quarter horse, Red Sox By Sonny, carried Foreman to victory in the Command Class for riders ages 13 to 17.
"He takes cues just perfectly," Foreman said of the 7-year-old sorrel gelding. "He's real easy. I'm glad I watched the class before mine, or I wouldn't have expected to counter canter. He always lopes (canters) correctly and always gets the correct lead."
The Command Class for riders 12 and under was won by Wiles, 11, aboard his appaloosa gelding The Rio Grande.
The award that Wiles picked up, like all the other awards for the day, was a hand towel (rub rag,in horse parlance) emblazoned with the MMHPA logo in the color appropriate for the horse's placing in the class. Each class was pinned through fourth.
The day's 66 classes were jammed with entries, with some classes having to be split.
"I think this shows that we were right to have a show with a lot of youth classes," says MMHPA Vice President Jim Wiles.