SAC CITY - For 4-H members in Sac County, the competition was just getting started as livestock shows got underway Thursday at the Sac County Fair.
A year of hard work came together for the youths as they showed their top animals in the sheep, poultry, goat and horse shows.
Riley Fischer, 14, of Sac City, gave it her best as she and her horse, Missy, competed in several classes of the 4-H horse show. The pair participated in the Western Pleasure division as they loped, turned and trotted their way to first place.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Joe Langbein, 10, of Sac City, brushes his bucket/bottle calf, Rocky, in the cattle barn at the Sac County Fair Thursday afternoon. His mother, Melissa Langbein, right, helps steady the calf.
That ability comes easily to Fischer, who has been showing 4-H horses for about four years.
"I just like spending time with my horses," she said. "I've been around them most of my life."
Tasha Ronfeldt, 17, of Schaller, also fared well in the horse show and is a veteran of the show ring.
"I've been showing and riding probably since I was about 3," she said. "We try to get to a lot of horse shows around northwest Iowa. I've always loved it my whole life."
Unlike most livestock shows, judging is not focused solely on the animal during a horse show, but rather on the way the rider handles the horse and how well they work together.
"They look at how well you and your horse connect," said Fischer, "and how well you handle them."
"They look at how well you ride and how well you lead," said Ronfeldt. "Slower is better. And they're also looking at if the horse's head is down flat."
In the cattle barn, Joe Langbein, 10, of Sac City, was preparing for his first bottle/bucket calf show.
Langbein has spent the past several months caring for the calf, first bottle feeding it and graduating to a feed bucket.
It is his first show, but he's helped both his older brother and sister with their bucket calves in the past.
"I have to brush it and lead it," he said. "And feed it. That was pretty easy when he was really little; we started with a bottle."
Outside the show ring, Hannah Hansen and Taylor Houska, both of Sac City, demonstrated a working exhibit in the 4-H building by creating a Mardi Gras-style mask from paper plates, feathers and sequins.
"It's a fun project," said Houska. "You just come up with a craft and get to help kids make cool things and see what everyone else does."
The Sac County Fair will continue today with the market swine and dairy shows.