Confidence is key for aspiring riders, according to Kaitlin Wise, who was crowned as this year’s horsemanship queen at the Lorain County Fair.
The 18-year-old Elyria resident graduated from Midview High School in June and has had her 15-year-old horse, Rosie, since 2013.
“I finished as first runner-up last year and it was mostly just for fun and trying to make new friends,” said Wise. “This year, I was really hoping to win queen. It’s a lot of work. There’s the etiquette dinner, the interview, the speech, the writing, and showmanship. It all takes a lot of work and dedication, that’s for sure.”
Wise still has one more year of 4-H eligibility and she plans to defend her crown in 2019. This year, she is bouncing back and forth between the fair and classes at Lorain County Community College.
“It’s hard to get to know people when you first get started out competing, but don’t let that turn you off,” she said. “It’s not as hard once you get started and find out everyone is really friendly. You just need to build up enough confidence to get out there and do it. Go ahead and try it because you never know what will happen.”
No horsemanship king was crowned this year due to a lack of candidates.
Finalists for queen agreed with Wise that confidence and initiative are vital for competition success.
Taylor Michel, a junior at Wellington High School, finished as first runner-up for 2018 after placing as second runner-up last year.
“Just take the step because 4-H is an amazing program,” she said while petting her horse, Cat. “You meet a lot of new people and get to try a lot of new things that can come in handy throughout your life. I recommend everybody takes that step and just does it.”
Norina Hawke of Grafton finished as second runner-up along with her horse, Bella.
“This was my first time competing and it was a great experience along with my fellow contestants,” she said. “You just have to go out there and give it your all. This is the first year I’ve had my horse and we’ve gotten out there to ride as much as possible to get to know each other better.”
Savannah Engleman, a Lorain County JVS and LCCC student from Spencer, was third runner-up.
“Once you get out here, there are plenty of people willing to support you and help you out along the way,” she said while standing next to her horse, Odyssey’s A. Contender. “This was my first time in the finals and I plan on giving it another try next year.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.