Tate Thompson grew up on the saddle. Ever since he can remember, he was riding in a pen.
Now, a freshman at Cloud County Community College, Thompson, 19, is a member of his school’s equestrian team. This former high school basketball player loves competition. This past weekend, he competed with his buddy Hot Enough for GQ at the Quarter Horse Cottonwood Classic on the Kansas State Fairgrounds.
"I enjoy being on the horses," Thompson said.
Thompson’s mother, Denise Thompson, owns Thompson Quarter Horses in Beloit – where she gives lessons on one of her 30 horses.
Alexa Krier, 8, has taken lessons from Denise for more than one year. She was excited to come to Hutchinson and ride Juliette.
"When I’m around her, she makes me feel happy," Alexa said.
More than 100 competitors from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma rode 120 horses at the event.
"You get a lot of time in the saddle," said Annette Thornburgh, of Topeka. "It’s a great atmosphere."
This competition is approved by the American Quarter Horse Association and the KQHA. Both the youth and the adults enjoy visiting with other riders.
Roberta and Denny Jaye, of Lindsborg, both compete.
"It’s a great pastime – something we can do together," Roberta Jaye said. "I can shut everything out. It’s a moving away from everything feeling."
Sarina Nickel, of Scott City, is the event’s manager. She has run this show for more than a decade.
"This year’s show beat my expectations," Nickel said. "There’s a lot of versatility."
The show featured English, Western and pleasure riding. Nickel will manage another quarter horse event, Salt City Circuit, from March 26-30 at the fairgrounds.
"Even though the drive was terrible," said Lynda Hardrick, of Penrose, Colo., "it was worth it. It was a great opportunity. We’ll be back next year."