MORRIS – Clouds of dust rose into the air Sunday as horses raced around barrels and poles at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.
The riders hung on tight as they raced against the clock during the annual Silver Spurs Horse Show fundraiser. Sometimes, they even had to work against their free-spirited horses, who didn’t want to cooperate as they were urged around the ring.
“It’s a fun day,” said 9-year-old Luke Hawkins, with the Coal City Community 4-H club. “My favorite is the plug race because you have to go as fast as you can and I like going fast.”
The event was open to any interested rider, regardless of whether they were a 4-H member. This sets the show apart from horse competitions held during last month’s 4-H fair.
Liz Collins, who was with Silver Spurs 4-H club when she was younger, came back to compete in the 19 and older division against other area adults.
“I am the club’s horse project leader, and I help the kids all summer prepare to compete,” Collins said. “I like watching the kids who come with their horses. It’s fun to watch them grow.”
Collins took the weekend off from her typical horse shows with the National Open Horse Association and open breed shows, where she has competed every weekend since May, to participate in the local show.
“I like this show because it’s a laid back competition, and if you don’t do well it’s not a big deal,” Collins said.
Skeeter Ehrman said the show gives people a place to show their horses and show what Grundy County 4-H has to offer, while raising money for the Silver Spurs club.
“We’re lucky enough to still have enough interest in horses that our program is always on the rise,” Ehrman said.
Ehrman’s daughter Aubrey Ehrman, 13, said she likes the show because it gives her a chance to test the skills she spends three days a week perfecting.
Not everyone who came out for the show planned on participating, although they did anyway. Ten-year-old Sadie Tresouthick with Silver Spurs 4-H Club thought she was coming to watch her friends compete.
But her friend, 8-year-old Natalie Cochran, not only brought her pony “Alfalfa” to race but also brought her horse “JT” so Tresouthick could compete along with her club-mates.
“This is my first time competing,” Tresouthick said. “It’s fun to bond with the horse. It was a surprise. I didn’t know I was going to get to ride.”
Cochran competed on the only pony in the show. The smaller horse had to work twice as hard to get the same times as the larger horses, but Cochran didn’t care. Having a chance to ride the pony made her want to participate.
In addition to the money raised by Silver Spurs from the entry fees, Homes Cool Kids 4-H club also participated, running the concession stand to raise money for their group.