LIMA — Ryan Snyder gave up horses as a young boy after being bucked from a pony more than once.
A few months ago, he dusted himself off and got back in the saddle at the urging of friends who were involved with horses through 4-H. Wednesday he won his first blue ribbon.
Ryan, 11, of Lima, was competing in the 13 and under division for the keg races, where a rider and horse maneuver round cones trying to set the best time.
His mom, Tracy Fisher, said his interest in horses faded for a while.
“He had a few ponies when he was younger and they bucked him off, so he kind of lost interest for a while,” Fisher said. “He started practicing in the spring and summer.”
Fisher said it used to be a challenge to get him to do any of the feeding and care for his horse, Bailey.
He described the daily prep for competing at the fair.
“We had to bathe her, brush her tail and mane, put her saddle on and bridle and feed her and give her water and clean her stall,” he said. “It’s pretty easy now.”
Ryan is one of many younger 4-H members getting involved in horses, according to 4-H Educator Mark Light. He said there are 116 horses entered in fair competitions this year.
The new Schmidthorst Pavilion with a sheltered performance area is helping draw attention to the sport. Plans are in the works to bring regional level equine competition to the fair next year.
“Some kids are really good.” he said. “They win their divisions then they have to go somewhere else to be challenged. If we can bring some of that here to keep challenging and raising the bar for our kids it allows them to be in their own backyard.”
Aubren Davis is one of those children taking up the challenge. The 14-year-old competed in various events Wednesday. This is her second year at the fair. She likes the new pavilion because it keeps the heat of the sun away and she doesn’t have to worry about rain.
Ryan, flush with his first success, said he enjoys getting ribbons and money.
The hardest part, “Trying to get ribbons,” he said.