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By Kathryn Menue
BELVIDERE – Before the crowds came, before the stands opened, and before the music and roar of the rides and entertainment came to life, the Boone County Fair opened in the back corner of the fairgrounds with the 4-H Horse and Pony Show in the outdoor Horse Arena on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
The show, designated to start at 8:30 a.m., hit some delays with the sound system not working correctly, prompting the show to start a few minutes late.
However, this delay gave the exhibitors a few extra minutes to practice with their horses in the cool, crisp morning of the opening day of the fair.
As the wind dissipated and the sun began to produce its merciless summer rays, the show began with the first class, the Mare Production Class, which only had two exhibitors.
As the day progressed, quite a few horses and ponies were shown throughout the day with classes ranging in size from one exhibitor to well over ten. As the day went on, people came and went watching the magnificent creatures trot about the outdoor arena while being led by not only adults of all ages, but children of all ages as well.
Several exhibitors competed in quite a few different groups with different horses or ponies or sometimes, the same ones in multiple classes. It was definitely possible for the same horse or pony to compete in more than one class seeing as there were 40 different classes.
Most of the classes were straight forward highlighting Western Ponies, English Horses, etcetera, but some classes were a little more fun like the Costume Class which awarded the animals with the prettiest, funniest, and most original costume.
After each class, the judge commended each of the exhibitors on their skills, gave them helpful tips for showing in the future, and encouraged each and every one of them to continue showing their horses or ponies in competitions.
Many horses and ponies competed from all over Boone County, including a remarkable horse named Phoenix.
Phoenix is a rescue horse from Bertell Farms of Belvidere. According to Bertell Farms’ website, the rescue horses they have taken in over the years “were all at one point victims of neglect, mistreatment, and poor living conditions.”
With a little love and a lot of care, horses, like Phoenix, have flourished with life once again.
“Now each and every horse shows no sign of mistreatment or neglect; they are all simply happy for the care we have given them,” the Bertells’ said.
A little care has gone a long way, allowing Phoenix to compete in the 4-H Horse and Pony Show at the 2015 Boone County Fair with all of the other horses and ponies.
At the end of the day, each category brought several winners, which will be published at a later date.

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