Hard work pays off in competition

While most kids at the Jackson County Fair were taking one more spin in the Gravitron or feasting on elephant ears, Makaela Memmott was hard at work Tuesday in the horse barn, grooming Sugar for her next competition.

The 10-year-old and her 17-year-old quarter horse have been inseparable for weeks as they trained for showmanship, bareback and three other 4-H equestrian events being held this week in the Isola Arena.

"Every day I go out there and pet and feed her" at least twice, Makaela said. They spend so much time together Makaela figures Sugar is practically her best friend.

"I love my horse," she said, as Sugar nudged her affectionately.

"These kids spend hours and hours with their horses throughout the entire year" preparing for these events, said Makaela's mother, Darla Memmott.

All that hard work paid off: Makaela earned a blue ribbon in the Horse Showmanship Junior A Class Tuesday afternoon, was called back to the Round of Champions and received a Ribbon for Participation.

Showmanship is all about the presentation, Memmott said. The kids must wear a cowboy hat and girls must place their hair in a bun. Horses must be well-groomed, some with tails braided. Horse and rider must work in unison as they execute a certain pattern of moves before a scrutinizing judge.

"It's all about being calm and controlled," Memmott said. "It's you and your horse looking good."

Makaela, a member of Horses Unlimited 4-H of Central Point, has been riding since she was 7 years old. She's been in 4-H for three years and shown at the fair for two years. She trains and rides throughout the year, participating in events such as barrel racing to keep competitive.

"Horses are her sport," Memmott said, adding she gave Makaela another horse for her birthday this week.

The Jackson County Fair is the culmination of months of dedication on the part of 4-H kids, Memmott said. Equestrian events throughout the week will include English and Western Equitation, Trail and Gymkhana equestrian games, among others.

"This venue shows off their hard work and dedication to their horse," Memmott said.

Vera Westbrook is a reporting intern for the Mail Tribune and can be reached at intern1@mailtribune.com.

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