Horses, riders take center stage at fair
NELIGH — Bryce Rudloff looked pretty small on top of his big horse.
But size doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to handling animals, as the 9-year-old from Clearwater proved Thursday afternoon during the Antelope County Fair here.
Bryce deftly maneuvered Cookie through a number of obstacles in the “trail” competition. He guided his horse through a gate, which he had to open and close while on horseback, over a makeshift bridge, a downed log and around several other obstacles, all under the watchful eye of the judge.
This is the first year Bryce has competed in 4-H horsemanship competition, said his mother, Pam. She and Bryce’s father, Paul, were on hand to watch and assist their youngest son.
The family lives on a farm near Clearwater where, among other things, Bryce and Cookie help move cattle.
Although Bryce helps care for Cookie and other animals on the farm, he enjoys riding the most, he said.
In addition to participating in the trail competition, Bryce also is competing in pole bending and barrel racing, working cow horse and halter competitions.
He also is showing goats and cattle, and he has entries in the baking and photography competitions.
Bryce’s older brother, Travis, also is participating in 4-H competition.
Even though it may sound as though Bryce has a lot going on for a boy his age, Pam Rudloff recognizes the benefits of 4-H and its activities.
“They learn responsibility,” she said.
Like Bryce and Cookie, Josey Booth and her horse, Little Blue, had no problem maneuvering the obstacles in the horsemanship trail competition Thursday.
The 14-year-old from Neligh has been riding “forever,” she said. She was named reserve champion in barrel racing and pole bending last year and is hoping to do better this year, she said.
The daughter of Tracy Booth of Ewing and Matt Booth of Neligh said she likes all of the events but is especially fond of anything that happens with speed.
“They’re just fun,” she said.
In addition to trail, pole bending and barrel racing, Josey will participate in working stock and breakaway roping competition at the fair, she said.
But she doesn’t limit herself to just this fair. She also participates in other rodeos and horsemanship events in the area, all of which takes time. As does caring for her animals, which is why she participates in just one sport — volleyball — at school.
This weekend, she’s focused on what she and Little Blue can do in the arena. She’s confident in their abilities.
“I’ve been riding him a long time. I know him pretty well,” she said.