• Last modified 1065 days ago (July 21, 2021)


No horsing around for these serious young competitors

Staff writer

Rylee Thomas’s parents put her on a horse the day after her birth. She has been riding high ever since.

With the help of her father and coach, Joel Thomas, the 10-year-old won a purple ribbon for horsemanship and a blue in halter Sunday at the Marion County Fair.

“She is still learning,” Joel said as Rylee got ready to ride paint horse Dancer.

She likes speed events like barrels and poles and grabbed blue and red ribbons in them.

Rylee also has cooking and arts and crafts projects at the fair this year.

But riding fast is the best.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “You never stop learning new things about a horse. There is something new every day.

Rylee isn’t the only competitor who learned early.

Paige Ensey hopped on a horse by herself when she was a 3-year-old daredevil.

Her grandmother, Melanie Ensey, has been her teacher and coach.

“She taught me to sit up straight in my saddle,” Paige said.

Paige, 14, won grand champion honors in showmanship Sunday and blue ribbons in horsemanship and Western pleasure and poles.

Her mare, Traveler, is her favorite of six horses her grandparents keep at their farm.

She practices at least three times a week and trusts her partner.

“She’s probably the most gentle mare that we have,” Paige said.

An entering sophomore at Berean Academy, Paige loves animals and would like to become a veterinarian.

In the meantime, she will work toward her goal of winning money in barrel racing when she is old enough.

Riding has taught Paige to conquer her fear, push herself and respect her partner.

“Always listen to your horse,” she said, “because accidents happen when you don’t really listen to them.”

Last modified July 21, 2021