For numerous reasons, including two family birthdays and two separate in-law visits, I did not show at the Payne County Fair this year. Last year, Rocking E took about six horses to the fair to spend the day together, and Gracie and I both showed Hot Rod. Our county fair is completely free to the public, and usually has cash prizes for the horse show portion. Now, nobody gets rich at the county fair, but you might make up the money you spent in fuel and shavings. Either way, it’s fun! Fun and crazy.
The Payne County Fair can best be described as controlled chaos. You see people showing their ancient, sway-backed pasture ornaments, their retired show horses, and even the occasional serious all-arounder who takes pleasure in demolishing their opponents. Heck! I’ve even seen people skip the trailer altogether, and just trot down the gravel roads to show at the fairgrounds! It is a hot mess. But, there is something about riding with the others in your community that appeals to me, despite the colorful exhibitors.
So, in honor of the Payne County Fair finishing over the weekend, I’m sharing a column I did for the NewsPress a few weeks ago. Plus, some pictures from last year’s fair. Enjoy!
Happy Trails: Tips for the Payne County Horse Show
With the Payne County Fair quickly approaching, many local horse owners are gearing up to show alongside their neighbors. Not only does the fair encourage camaraderie among our equine community, it’s free! It provides an excellent opportunity to get your horse out of his normal routine, and do something new and fun. From personal experience, here are my top tips for showing at the Payne County Fair this year:
Sign up early. If you want your horse to stay in a stall overnight, sign up at the Payne County Fairgrounds office as early as you can! Spots fill quickly. Just remember, if you do keep your horse in a stall, they have to arrive on Friday afternoon and stay until Saturday at 9 P.M. Bring plenty of shavings to pad your horse’s feet on the concrete floor, and don’t forget a manure rake and muck bucket!
Be prepared to show your horse’s current Coggins report upon arrival. If your Coggins is expired, make an appointment as soon as possible with your vet. This will allow ample time for bloodwork and paperwork to be processed.
Dress for success. Just because the county horse show is free, does not mean you shouldn’t look your absolute best. It’s not required to wear the most expensive show clothes, or even the trendiest. It is important, however, to look neat and tidy. Make sure your clothes fit you well and choose colors that complement your horse. If you are unsure what to wear, check the American Quarter Horse Association rulebook for guidelines.
Groom, groom, and then groom some more. Your horse doesn’t have to be a high-dollar show horse to ride at the county fair, but you should still groom him like he is. One of the first things a judge sees when you enter the ring, is your horse’s turnout. Clip your horse a week before the show, and then do touch-ups the day before. If you can, bathe your horse the night before the show and put them in a stall with fresh bedding to keep them clean. Apply baby powder on white areas to add brightness and protect against dust and dirt. Make sure your horse’s feet are well-trimmed or shod, and then condition the hooves for a healthy glow. Create a glowing presentation of your horse by grooming thoroughly.
Take your own food. Exhibitors, even at the county fair, can get nervous! Eating greasy vendor food will not help your tummy if you start getting butterflies about showing. Take a cooler with healthy food and bottled water, and don’t give-in to the junk!
Know your class patterns and rules. As soon as you get to the fairgrounds in the morning, look for your patterns posted on the office door. Take a picture of them with your phone, and then walk the pattern someplace quiet. Read the rules and guidelines in the AQHA rulebook online to have a better understanding of each class.
Be confident and have fun! The county fair was established to promote community involvement! Enjoy your time with your horse and your fellow equestrians. Make new acquaintances. Take the competition seriously, but enjoy the process-ribbon or no ribbon. Remember, you either win-or you learn!
If you’ve never shown at the Payne County Horse Show, I encourage you to try it. You can’t beat a free, family-oriented horse show!