Thrill of ride 
helps keep competitors in the saddle

Ava Severs, 11, of Grand Junction takes a jump Saturday during the 2-foot vertical hunter competition astride her Welsh Holsteiner horse Twizzle at the 25th annual Frontier Belles Mesa County Fair Open and Hunter/Jumper Horse Show at the Mesa County Fairgrounds. Severs placed third in the event. The horse show continues today with western riding and competitions.

Twizzle is 8, so the youthfulness is understandable.

“He kind of has a little boy personality,” explained Ava Severs, 11. “He likes to know what you’re doing, he has a lot of energy. And he likes his job.”

Saturday morning, the joy in his job was evident as he and Ava easily cleared the vertical jumps during the 2-foot hunter event at the Frontier Belles Mesa County Fair Open and Hunter/Jumper Horse Show. The event continues today beginning at 8 a.m. at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, with an emphasis on western riding.

Celebrating its 25th year, the show was founded to “enhance the fair,” explained show manager Connie Klauzer. “They didn’t have something for horses at the fair, so they asked (Frontier Belles) to do something.”

The show, which is the Frontier Belles Sidesaddle Club’s only fund-raiser, is open entry and invites riders of all ages to participate. Ava and other members of the Grand Valley Pony Club rode in dozens of events Saturday and shared their love for horses and riding.

“It’s fun because the courses are always changing, so it’s like you’re always riding a new course,” said Rachael Haas, 12. “I’m kind of a daredevil, too, so I like the jumping.”

During the show, each rider is judged in each category he or she enters.

Some categories focus on posture while others look more at horsemanship and other elements of riding.

Many of the riders participating Saturday also travel to events sanctioned by the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Eventing Association.

But the common thread among all participants Saturday was a love of riding and a love of horses.

“I practiced for probably a week (for Saturday’s show),” Ava said. “I try to ride twice a week at least. This is just a really fun thing to do.”


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