Two girls with four horses compete at the state fair

Paige Condon, of Barnum, and Kelsey Nelson, of Manson, each took two horses into 4-H open class competitions at the fair.

DES MOINES — Although the fair officially opened Thursday, it was the end for two local teens who participated in with their horses for most of the week.

Paige Condon, 14, of Barnum, and Kelsey Nelson, 16, of Manson, each took two horses into 4-H open class competitions at the fair.

Condon, with Lady and Flash, competed in halter, showmanship, walk-trot and Western Pleasure.

Lady and Condon earned all blue ribbons. The good-humored Flash, with Condon, received a red ribbon in horsemanship, but was still awaiting their turn in Western Pleasure Thursday afternoon.

Although she’s not new to showing horses, this was only her second year competing at the Iowa State Fair. Last year, she participated in the cowgirl queen contest.

“It was fun. There was some hard competition, so I decided that I wanted to try competing in the 4-H program this year,” she said. “It’s hard competition and it’s more intense.”

Competing at the Iowa State Fair there is a lot more work than preparing for the shows, she said, but she enjoys the stiff competition.

A busy summer of softball and drivers education kept Condon off her saddle more than she liked. So, for next summer’s show season, she has chosen to opt out of softball. That way she can dedicate more time to her horses and attend more shows.

Condon participates in Iowa Association Saddle Club shows and other fairs in addition to the Webster County Fair, as well as the Iowa State Fair. She has already set higher goals for the rest of her high school horse-showing career.

“I would like to come back to the Iowa State Fair and do better. Get some purples. And I would also like to re-enter the Cowgirl Queen Contest,” she said.

Nelson, on the other hand will be participating in the Cowgirl Queen Contest today.

“That’s a long day,” she said. “You have to start right away in the morning. We have to get the horse ready before me. Then I have to curl my hair, wear a whole bunch of makeup, look pretty and then you really have to present yourself when you’re out there. It’s a horsemanship pattern, so they’re looking at you, how you control your horse and how you connect with your horse.”

The Cowgirl Queen Contest wraps up a busy week for Nelson. She and her horses, Sophia and Dottie, competed in classes that included trail, horsemanship and Western Pleasure, where she earned a second-place purple ribbon on Thursday.

This is her second year showing Sophia at the Iowa State Fair; she and Dottie have been showing at the fair since Nelson was in fifth grade.

“It’s a good experience for the horses and a good experience for me,” she said. “I just come out and have fun. I don’t care if I win or lose. I just go out and do what I know how to do.”

For Nelson, showing horses comes naturally. Not only is it a pastime she enjoys, it is also a large part of her family.

But it’s her passion for the sport and the animal that keeps her wanting to attend more horse shows in the future.

“I love horses and I love riding them,” she said.

COMMENTS