Grace Smith said she had only been working with her mount, Cinch, for four to six weeks, but that didn’t stop her from finishing first in a field of 16 competitors during Wednesday evening’s Versatility competition at the Delaware County Fair’s Junior Fair Equestrian Arena last week.
Versatility is not a five-minutes-in-the-ring-and-you’re-done event. Competition began under a clear, sunny sky at 5:30 p.m., and ended at 9:30 under arena lights.
With the help of family, friends and fellow 4-H Club members serving as grooms, and a half dozen pick-up trucks filled with clothing, saddles, tack and other gear, competitors and their horses remained in the arena as they moved from Showmanship to Hunter-Under-Saddle to Horsemanship to Reining and concluded with Barrel Racing.
Smith, a member of Cowboy Convoy 4-H Club for the past two years, earned 160 points, well ahead of second-place finisher Morgan Kiehl of Wild Riders 4-H Club, who finished with 148 points.
Following competition, finishers were named from a tie for 15th place though the final three. Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club member Jocelyn Cardi placed third with 116 points, accepted her award and rode out of the arena, leaving Smith and Kiehl at center ring. When Kiehl was named second-place winner, Smith was in tears.
“I was shocked,” Smith said. “Cinch was a backup and we’ve been working so hard, but Morgan was really good. I would have been happy placing anywhere behind her.”
Smith, a Buckeye Valley High School junior who serves on student council and plays basketball for the Barons, is the daughter of John and Tori Smith.
In addition to Smith, Kiehl and Cardi, other Versatility qualifiers were: fourth place, Alexandra Abbott (JJ’s E-Z Riders); fifth place, Evan Thiergartner (Sunbury Halter & Saddle); sixth place, Megan Kirsop (JJ’s E-Z Riders); seventh place, Lauren Thiergartner; eighth place, Jessica Haynes (Sunbury Halter & Saddle); ninth place, Samuel Smallets (Cowboy Convey); 10th place, Maura Flanagan (Sunbury Halter & Saddle); 11th place, Reilly Wright, (Wild Riders); 12th place, Kody Knapp (Sunbury Halter & Saddle); 13th place, Victoria Lang (Wild Riders); 14th place, Taylor Tuller (Barrels, Rails & Such); and tied for 15th place were Kora Derwent (Cinch N Saddle) and Maggie Cain (Barrels, Rails & Such).
Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093