Hard charging girls are not hard to find at the horse events at the Pratt County Fair. After two days of competition, a trio of ladies took home the grand champion ribbons in all three divisions.
Payje Orler took the Senior division title, Adrein McFarland captured the Intermediate crown and Haley Spitzer won the Junior division.
Orler has been in 4-H eight years but started competing in horse events in the open class two years earlier.
She practices her events once or twice a week and gets inspiration from her dad Michael who gives her advice and provides transportation to various events. Orler’s good friend Abby Giles, also a 4-H’er, provides good advice.
Her favorite event is the poles where the rider has to zigzag the horse around a series of poles as fast a possible and not knock the poles over.
Orler likes the feeling of weaving as she rides through the poles. However, when it comes to her most challenging event, it is the western pleasure that gives her the most problems. She said her horse doesn’t like the slow events and she doesn’t like to go slow either.
Orler rode two horses during the events, Moose for the horse halter, trail and performance events and Bubbles for the faster timed events.
Horses are big, powerful animals and it takes a lot of skill to safely handle the animals. During a practice session she was hanging off the horse sideways and another time she face planted.
She would suggest joining 4-H because of all the new friendships plus taking part in a lot of fun activities.
Intermediate Grand Champion Adrein McFarland has been in 4-H five years, competing every year in horse and prior to that in open class.
Her practice schedule is one hour a day at least, plus she likes to practice riding bareback. She said it gives her stronger balance plus it’s a lot of fun.
She hopes some day to be as successful as her inspiration, Charmayne James, an 11-time National Finals Rodeo barrel-racing champion.
Her mother Ruth McFarland is also a big inspiration providing advice and instruction.
“She helps me though the tough times. She doesn’t get mad and she tells me what to do,” McFarland said.
Her brother Nathan also provides support. Her friend and 4-H companion Abby Giles also provides support and helps her learn.
Her favorite event is barrels. She enjoys going fast and turning sharp. Sometimes she turns so quickly he foot almost touches the ground.
The halter events are the most difficult for her and her horses Sunflower, Elvis and NFR. They are better at running so it’s difficult for them to meet the confirmation requirements plus she has to compete against other horses that are better trained in halter.
She encourages others to join 4-H to enjoy the fun, meet new people and help encourage others as they learn.
Junior Grand Champion Haley Spitzer has been in 4-H two years and doing horse both years.
She enjoys her practice sessions especially when she is running barrels and doing the times events.
Her good friend and fellow 4-H’er Allie Hoeme provides her inspiration and cheers for her when Spitzer competes. Her 4-H friend Madeline “Maddy” Drake also helps during training and helps Spitzer correct mistakes.
Spitzer admits barrels are her favorite event because she gets to go really fast. Poles are her biggest challenge because her horse wants to go back across the arena instead of going around the poles.
She has four horses to choose from, including Frosty, Misty, Lonesome and Pistol. Spitzer said she doesn’t get scared even though she is a lot smaller than her horses.
The weather did affect her horses. They acted better Monday when it wasn’t so hot.
She said joining 4-H is a good way to get to know new people plus they get to learn stuff about horses.
The Horse Reserve Grand Champions are: Abby Giles-Senior; Hannah Spitzer-Intermediate; Daniel Spitzer-Junior.