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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 18, 2011

Riders of all ages will compete on horseback at the Altamont Fair

By Jo E. Prout

ALTAMONT — Horse lovers will enjoy the fair this year, as tiny tots, strong young riders, and the over-40 set compete to show off their skills and have fun, too.

“We have several shows,” said Rose Norkus, the director in charge of entries and horses. “We have a horse show every single day,” she said.

Norkus, who is also a fair board member and fair treasurer, said that different classes are scheduled throughout the day, so fairgoers have a chance to watch.

Tuesday’s rain showers did not affect the open draft horse show, she said.

“We had a very wonderful large show,” she said.

Wednesday and Thursday have exhibition and open pony shows.

Susie Osta, described by Norkus as her oldest pony person, is the superintendent in charge of the pony shows and has been for four years.

“I took over Rose Norkus’s job,” Osta said. “I just take care of 60 ponies here, with families. I supervise.”

Osta said that the youngest pony exhibitor this year was Hannah Bishop, age 3. Hannah rode Western in the lead line class Tuesday, with an adult leading her horse, Osta said.

“She did very well,” Osta said.

Osta, herself, is an exhibitor, competing in several classes this year, including Tuesday’s halter class.

“I was very happy,” Osta said of her performance. “I love the fair.” She has shown her ponies for more than 30 years, she said.

“I have a variety of ponies. I have four at the fair this year,” Osta said. She invited fairgoers to watch the different classes.

“Come see the open pony show Thursday,” she said. “Big lead line classes start at 9 o’clock. It runs from 9 to 4 p.m.”

Paddock play

4-H members of all ages show on Friday. Saturdays’ shows include English and Western riding classes. Sunday, the final day of the fair, will feature a draft horse show in the morning, and a gymkhana in the afternoon, Norkus said.

“Gymkhana means games on horseback. That is exactly what it is,” Norkus said. “Any game you can play can be played on horseback. For example, Izzy Dizzy. Riders ride as fast as they’re comfortable and jump off.” The riders then spin themselves around until they are dizzy, she said.

“It really pleases the crowd when they fall down,” she said.

Gymkhana events appeal to all ages of riders, Norkus said.

“You’ll see little kids still being led by an adult. There are Jack Benny-division riders, over 39 and up, who still gymkhana their horses,” she said.

Another gymkhana event is barrel racing, with three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern, Norkus said. The best time out of the arena after completing the cloverleaf wins.

“That’s a more skilled event,” she said.

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