The Comanche County Free Fair Open Horse Show proved unexpectedly popular Saturday as an outlet for equestrians seeking relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Comanche County Fairgrounds parking lot was packed with horse trailers well before the 8 a.m. start time. Twenty-nine pre-registered for the show, but some of the entrants brought two horses. This year, adults were invited to compete in the show for the first time, and five of the 29 were signed up for that division.
The horse show serves as a prequel to an abbreviated Comanche County Free Fair scheduled for Sept. 9-10. The reason it’s held this early is to piggyback off the arena that the Comanche County Fairgrounds staff set up inside the Expo Building for the Grand National Horseman’s Association Playday Finals. In fact, some entrants at Saturday’s horse show had competed in that event as well.
Jamie Bennett, the new ag educator for Comanche and Stephens County Extension Offices, said it was important to put on this portion of the fair “to show that kids can still get out and have fun and show their horses.”
She and Comanche County 4-H Extension Educator Sharon Stuckey, co-sponsors of the show, spread the word through newsletters, flyers, social media, word of mouth and emails.
One of the riders, 13-year-old Bailey Anderson, is going into eighth grade at MacArthur Middle School this fall. She said it was important to her to come to the horse show “to show off my horse’s abilities and hopefully win us a trophy.”
Bailey said she’s been to a couple of horse shows this year.
“I think Oklahoma has been opening up and there’s a lot,” she said. “I’ve been doing GNHA Playdays, and I had GNHA Finals last week.”
She planned to compete in every event Saturday.
“This is Cream Puff. He’s 10 years old. He acts like a 2-year-old. He likes to go fast, and he likes to eat,” she said of her cream-colored mount.
Another horse standing at the rear of the trailer showed his partiality for the feedbag as well.
“That’s Kodiak. That’s my mom’s horse. He’s a retired Oklahoma racehorse,” Bailey said, noting that he used to race in Oklahoma City and possibly Tulsa. “My mom’s showing him.”
Her mother, Melissa Anderson, went with her to the GNHA Playday Finals, too. They’ve also been going to Gracemont Roundup Club Playdays.
“This is her first time doing a show here, but yeah, we both like to do them together,” Bailey said.
As it turned out, both mother and daughter were the high-point winners in their respective age divisions.
Another entrant, Breauna Kerns, 13, of Sterling will be in ninth grade this fall. She’s been riding horses for four years, and she competed at the Comanche County Youth Open Horse Show the past three years. It’s also the first show she’s competed in this year.
Breauna said her friend, Sterling ninth grader McKayla Pendergrass, 14, talked her into going. They came to the show together and gave their horses a bath at the wash rack. Then they brushed and combed them to get them ready to show.
Breauna’s horse is named Cowboy, and McKayla’s is Cinch. They planned to compete in every single event.
Breauna said the reason she wanted to participate is “because it’s fun. You get to hang out with friends and judge the horses.”
Her horse has fun, too.
“He loves doing this,” she said. “We have two other shows this year, in Apache and Duncan.”
Participating in halter, showmanship and trail this year was Dylan Esquer of Grandfield and his miniature horse, Fabio.
Here are results from the show, as judged by Selena Bradshaw of Sterling:
Grand champion mare: Wayne Bales
Reserve grand champion mare: Casey Byrd
Mares, 5 and under: Wayne Bales, Casey Byrd, Sara Robinson.
Mares, 6 and over: Sarah Fisher, Shelly Tanner, Jamey Myers, Brooklyn Esquer, Jocelyn James, Paige Gray.
Grand champion gelding: Bryson Smith
Reserve grand champion gelding: Zoe Searles
Geldings, 5 and under: Paige Gray, Jason Burruss.
Geldings, 6 and over: Bryson Smith, Zoe Searles, Karis Freeman, Casey Byrd, Breauna Kerns, Brylie Burruss, Bailey Anderson, Jamey Myers, McKayla Pendergrass, Nicole Cochran.
Junior showmanship: Bailey Anderson, Jocelyn James, Zoe Searles, Karis Freeman, Brylie Burruss, Breauna Kerns, Casey Byrd, Paige Gray, Sara Robinson.
Senior showmanship: Nicole Cochran, Jamey Myers, McKayla Pendergrass, Brooklyn Esquer.
Adult showmanship: Melissa Anderson, Sarah Fisher, Jason Burruss, Shelly Tanner.
Trail, juniors: Casey Byrd, Breauna Kerns, Bailey Anderson, Reese Dickerson, Jocelyn James, Karis Freeman, Brylie Burruss, Paige Gray, Zoe Searles.
Trail, seniors: Nicole Cochran, McKayla Pendergrass, Riley Dickerson, Jamey Myers, Brooklyn Esquer.
Trail, adults: Carrie Dickerson, Melissa Anderson, Sarah Fisher, Jason Burruss, Shelly Tanner.
Western Pleasure, juniors: Karis Freeman, Reese Dickerson, Breauna Kerns, Delilah Weissman, Bailey Anderson, Jocelyn James, Brylie Burruss, Casey Byrd, Paige Gray, Zoe Searles.
Western Pleasure, seniors: Riley Dickerson, Jamey Myers, McKayla Pendergrass, Brooklyn Esquer, Nicole Cochran.
Western Pleasure, adults: Jason Burruss, Carrie Dickerson, Sarah Fisher, Melissa Anderson, Shelly Tanner.
Western Horsemanship, juniors: Karis Freeman, Casey Byrd, Delilah Weissman, Reese Dickerson, Breauna Kerns, Jocelyn James, Bailey Anderson, Brylie Burruss, Paige Gray, Zoe Searles.
Western Horsemanship, seniors: Riley Dickerson, Nicole Cochran, Brooklyn Esquer, Jamey Myers, McKayla Pendergrass.
Western Horsemanship, adults: Jason Burruss, Melissa Anderson, Sarah Fisher, Carrie Dickerson, Shelly Tanner.
Barrel Racing, juniors: Breauna Kerns, Bailey Anderson, Casey Byrd, Jocelyn Harris, Casey Byrd, Reese Dickerson, Karis Freeman, Brylie Burruss, Addison Marsh, Zoe Searles.
Barrel Racing, seniors: Jamey Myers, McKayla Pendergrass, Brooklyn Esquer, Riley Dickerson, Nicole Cochran.
Barrel Racing, adults: Shelly Tanner, Melissa Anderson, Carrie Dickerson, Sarah Fisher, Jason Burruss.
Pole Bending, juniors: Bailey Anderson, Breauna Kerns, Jocelyn James, Karis Freeman, Brylie Burruss, Reese Dickerson, Paige Gray.
Pole Bending, seniors: McKayla Pendergrass, Riley Dickerson, Jamey Myers, Brooklyn Esquer, Nicole Cochran.
Stake Races, juniors: Casey Byrd, Casey Byrd, Bailey Anderson, Jocelyn James, Karis Freeman, Breauna Kerns, Brylie Burruss, Reese Dickerson, Zoe Searles, Paige Gray.
Stake Races, seniors: McKayla Pendergrass, Jamey Myers, Nicole Cochran, Brooklyn Esquer, Riley Dickerson.
Stake Races, adults: Melissa Anderson, Carrie Dickerson, Sarah Fisher, Shelly Tanner, Jason Burruss.
High point junior: Bailey Anderson, 13, of Lawton, 55 points
High point senior: McKayla Pendergrass, 14, of Elgin, 60 points
High point adult: Melissa Anderson of Lawton, 63 points