La PORTE — Dozens of equine riders showed up to the La Porte County Fairgrounds' Horse and Pony Show Arena on Friday to demonstrate their riding skills. Two junior competitors left the fair festooned in championship ribbons.

This year was nine-year-old Grace Countryman’s first year competing in La Porte County’s Horse and Pony Judging. Together with her 28-year-old Haflinger Cross pony, Zeus, she was able to take home nearly a dozen trophies and ribbons from this year’s exhibitions.

Countryman was awarded Champion Junior Dressage, Champion Junior Pony Western Pleasure under 50”, Champion Junior Pony Western Horsemanship under 50”, Champion Junior Bareback, Reserve Champion Halter Gelding under 50”, Reserve Champion Junior Pony English Pleasure, Reserve Champion Junior Pony English Equitation and Reserve Champion Junior Pony Flags. The duo were also awarded a ribbon for Reserve Champion Junior Versatility, a competition displaying four classes including English, Western, Reining and Barrels.

She and Zeus stood out in the Junior Freestyle competition by dressing up as a Belle and Phillippe from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The display earned them the Reserve Champion Junior Champion Ribbon.

Countryman practices with Zeus nearly every morning to be able to excel in this competition. She and her mother, Danielle take Zeus out early to make sure they both get adequate training.

In the horse division, 10-year-old Clara Chambers and her 18-year-old Paint, Tonto, were awarded Grand Champion Junior Barrels, Reserve Grand Champion Junior Division for Speed and Action and Grand Champion Junior Horse Poles Class.

Chambers prepared for this year’s competition by attending nine speed clinics. She spent a lot of time practicing at home to get ready for this year’s fair. Additionally, Chambers’ mother, Kristy, often takes her to local horse shows to inspire her to improve her riding skills.

With the support of their families, both riders intend to continue to enter the La Porte County Fair’s competitions in the future.

“It’s a lot of work taking care of a horse, but it’s so worth it,” said Kristy Chambers.

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