This is the second year that the Howard County Youth Horse Show Series has attracted young riders from around the state.
"We are trying to give kids an opportunity to show within rather narrow age groups," explained organizer Joan Bosmans. "The leadline and beginner divisions are open to anyone 10 or under, the junior division is for kids from 6 to 10, the intermediate division is for 11- to 13-year-olds and the seniors are 14 to 18.
"A lot of the kids come from three 4-H horse clubs: the Centaurs, Spur and Stirrup and Trail Blazers. But these shows are open to anyone in our age groups. You don't have to be a 4-H member to participate."
At last Sunday's show at Schooley Mill Park in Howard County, it seemed as if the entire world of under-18 riders had gotten the word about what great shows these are.
One of the youngest participants was Norman Benton of Clarksville. Four-year-old Norman rode his 24-year-old pony My Little Buddy to a fourth-place ribbon in the popular and difficult trail class.
Competitors in this class had to walk over poles on the ground, bend their way through a square, trot a complete figure eight, walk over a bridge, negotiate backing or walking through L-shaped poles on the ground, dismount, lead their horse or pony over a log and remount.
Norman and his very tiny Shetland gelding had a great time with these challenges.
"Nothing was very hard," Norman said. "But when we came over the bridge I felt like I might fall off."
But Norman held on to his chocolate-dappled pony with the bright white mane and tail and came over the bridge like a champion to pick up his ribbon.
There were some other "heavy-duty workers" at this show, said volunteer Jeanne Springer of Ellicott City. She manned the registration desk (beginning at 7:30 a.m.) and her husband Ken watered down the ring when needed between many of the day's 37 classes.
"Everyone is a volunteer, except the judge," said Terry Norris of Highland. "It's a lot of work and is mostly done by the parents of the kids who are members of the three 4-H groups and of this organization."
Youth Horse Show Series
Leadline: Chad Stachawak; Leadline Walk: Carin Janet. Beginner Equitation Group A Walk: Katie Schneider; Walk/Trot: Blair Conard; Walk/Trot/Canter: Schneider; Walk/Trot/Versatility: Schneider.
Beginner Equitation Group B Walk: Phoebe Kuesters; Walk/Trot: Heather Berwanger; Walk/Trot/Canter: Lindsay Rohrbough; Walk/Trot/Versatility: Alison Burke. Beginner Trail: Lauren Hamilton.
Junior Equitation Walk/Trot: Jackie Kise; Equitation Walk/Trot/Canter: Kristen Norris; Equitation Over Fences: Norris; Under Saddle: Carris Jackson; Command: Cathie Ippolito; Over Fences: Ippolito; Trail Class: Dawn Ousley.
Intermediate Division Group A Equitation Walk/Trot: Sarah Backhaus; Walk/Trot/Canter: Sarah Gibson; Under Saddle: Gibson; Command: Jessica Herbert; Group B Equitation Walk/Trot: Stacey Johnson; Walk/Trot/Canter: Johnson; Under Saddle: Jane Marie Myers; Command: Crissi Dustin.
Group A and B -- Over Fences Equitation: Ashley Ritter; Over Fences: Steven Robertson; Trail Class: Christina Minot.
Senior Division Equitation Walk/Trot, Walk/Trot/Canter, Over Fences: Erin Longnecker; Under Saddle: Christy Fox; Command: Emily Virkus; Over Fences: Meredith McAlinden; Trail Class: Patience Pantos. Western Division Horsemanship Walk/Jog, Walk/Jog/Lope; Pattern; Pleasure Walk/Jog, Walk/Jog/Lope, Command -- Amy Krupka.
Calendar of events
Wednesday -- Severn Valley Stables Twilight Shows. Dressage, Combined Tests, Clear Round Stadium Jumping. Judge: Beverly Fields. (410) 757-1971.
June 27 -- All English Horse Show. Lehigh Show Grounds. (410) 848-6597.
June 27 -- TRRC Horse Show. Foxfield Farm, Woodbine. (410) 442-2880.
June 28-29 -- Maryland Combined Training Association Cross Country Clinic with Lucinda Green. Jackson's Hole Farm, Upperco. (410) 666-3157.
June 30- July 3 -- U.S. Pony Club Regional Rally. Combined Training. Fair Hill, Elkton. (410) 398-8270.
July 4 -- Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association Show. Howard County Fairgrounds. (410) 875-2050.
July 7 -- Severn Valley Stables Twilight Shows. Dressage, Combined Tests, Clear Round Stadium Jumping. Judge: Vanessa Holden Swartz. (410) 757-1971.
July 10 -- Howard County Youth Horse Show Series. Judge: Robin Townsend. Schooley Mill Park, Hall Shop Road, Highland. (301) 596-9461.
July 18 -- Mid-Maryland Horse and Pony Association Show. Howard County Fairgrounds. (410) 875-2050.