Alexis Bernard and Philco Silver Moon took the championship ribbon in jumping competition as miniature horse events kicked off the outdoor shows Thursday morning at this year's Sheridan County Fair.
Katy Kalasinsky and her mini horse Zoey were reserve champion in that event, and Dane Hansen and his mini horse Biscuit finished third.
Before the show, Bernard talked about the horse she showed on the fair's opening day.
In the obstacle course, Kalasinsky and her other mini, Miss Daisy, took championship honors, and reserve place went to Bernard and Philco Silver Moon.
Later, an exultant Kalasinsky, youngest competitor in the event, described her feelings about the obstacle course win.
Hansen again took third in obstacles, and later told events judge Vicky Wine that he probably devoted too much time getting Biscuit ready for the driving course. The only entries in that class, Hansen and Biscuit received a blue ribbon for their performance.
Hansen, who owns 4-year-old Biscuit, talks about his horse and the cart he uses.
This is the first year for Bernard and Kalasinsky to show miniature horses. Bernard, 11, said she's also showing sheep, and she'll be in the showmanship class.
Kalasinsky, 9 – and a two-year veteran of 4-H and the county fair – and,”I wanted to do some sort of animal (this year), and I thought a miniature horse might be fun.”
She borrowed Zoey and Miss Daisy from Sarah Rawlings, a family friend who lives in Parkman and has eight of the little horses.
Hansen, at 12 the oldest of the competitors, is the only one who owns his horse. He's been a member of 4-H for three years – and has shown Biscuit in mini horse competition for all three.
“This is the only horse I've ever shown,” he adds.
Miniature horses are defined by their size – no more than 34 to 38 inches tall at the base of the mane (the withers). Miniature horse shows have been a popular part of Sheridan County Fairs for several years. The small horses, nicknamed “minis,” in addition to being trained for driving, equine agility and other events, are also used as service animals, akin to assistance dogs, for people with disabilities.
Minis have a long history. In the 17th century, miniature horses were bred as pets for Europe's Habsburg nobility, and records from the court of Louis XIV of France around 1650 note the presence of tiny horses among the exotic animals in the king's zoo.
A miniature horse called the Falabella was developed in Argentina in 1868, and South Africa developed a breed of miniature horses beginning in 1945.
In the United States, miniature horses were refined during the 20th century through additional bloodlines that included the Hackney Pony and the Pony of the Americas.