Following the rhythmic galloping of horses in Fonner Park’s Thompson Foods Outdoor Arena, more than 100 competitors and their horses awaited the results of the pole bending trials.
Not much could be heard over the crowd’s cheering and yells of support.
With names and numbers organized in the order of “coming in, on deck or in the hole,” senior and junior pole bending participants worked to beat the heat and their previous competition times.
Through the crowd of white button-up shirts, jeans and riding boots, Quinten Jones from Lincoln County was distinguishable with his horse’s matching blue saddle blanket and blue stable socks. Along with Jones’ organized look came the excitement of participating in his first state pole bending competition.
“I’m excited and I’m trying to get a trophy,” Jones said.
Also in her first year at state 4-H, Jenna Croswell from Box Butte County said competing in the senior division for pole bending and barrel racing is not difficult, but more like an adrenaline rush.
Croswell has been riding for a few years with Salem, her “all-around horse.” Croswell said Salem and she have created a deep connection since she first got Salem when Croswell was 5 years old.
“It depends on the horse,” Croswell said.
Croswell started competing in 4-H at the age of 12 and finally qualified for state 4-H at the age of 18. Other than pole bending and barrel racing, Croswell also qualified in English Hunter Under Saddle, Western Horsemanship and Western Pleasure.
For pole bending and barrel races, Croswell said, “We are shooting for the purple ribbon. As long as we don’t fall or get hurt.”