4-H riders talented, innovative at fair

Hundreds of hours of training are required to compete in the annual horse competitions and drills at the Island County Fair.

So when eight of the horses got sick for the fair’s 80th edition last week, the riders had to find a way to use that training without their equine partners.

In an unusual sight Saturday afternoon, a drill team consisting of five girls from the South Whidbey Centaurs, Knight Riders and the Coupeville Cossacks/North Whidbey Beach Rangers followed the regular drill teams by performing in the fair arena on stick horses.

Island County 4-H member Sandy Nelson said the girls had worked all year to go to the fair and make it to the state championship at September’s Puyallup Fair. But a virus at the farm the horses graze at made the horses too sick for the Aug. 20 show.

The girls still kept a good attitude, even with the setback. Nelson said.

“They all had great attitudes and held their heads high,” she said.

The stick-horse team was perhaps the most lighthearted portion of a full slate of horse competition at the fair. Events ran from Aug. 18 - 22, and drew approximately 90 competitors.

Competition was completed in age divisions. The junior division included riders up to third-grade; intermediate included riders third- through fifth-grade; and the senior division was made up of riders sixth grade and older.

The riders competed in two categories, gaming and performance. The horse show did not go off without a few mishaps this year. Feldman said because of the close proximity of carnival rides, the horses were often spooked and a few riders were thrown. There were no serious injuries.

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