Horse competitions at Dodge County Fair heats up with spike in r - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Horse competitions at Dodge County Fair heats up with spike in riders

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KASSON, Minn. (KTTC) --  Wednesday certainly reflected how horse competitions have gotten so huge in Dodge County, as participant numbers have more than doubled in recent years, but it's more than just the chance of the blue ribbon that keeps kids coming to the program.

Most of the kids at the Dodge County Fair have been riding horses since they were able to walk.  At least that's the case for 12-year-old Lila Gronseth of Sargeant, who competed for her chance at the state horse show in September.

She has only been competing for the past year, but has been coming to the Dodge County Fair since childhood.  She said she has noticed a jump in the competition.

"This year it's kind of actually gotten bigger because last year I didn't see as many people doing horse stuff, so I think it's gotten a lot bigger," she said.  Gronseth hoped to compete well in all her competitions Wednesday, including barrel racing, pole weaving, key hole and jump figure eights.

Although the energy of the sport keeps her and the competition going, 4-H leaders said it's more than just the fun that makes this great for kids.

"Just a lot of interest in horses in Dodge County, a lot of just coming and seeing there's potential and it does kids a lot of good to have a horse, to learn to ride and to show, and they get to enter projects in the fair, so it's an educational opportunity," said Marette Jorgenson, a co-leader of the Dodge County 4-H Young Riders.

Jorgenson said a reason horse competitions have garnered more attention in the community has to do with a 4-H project campaign in which young members have fundraised across the county for money to expand their horse barn on the fairgrounds as well as get stall upgrades.  The completed horse barn has provided them with vast opportunities to grow the horse program into now 75 members.

Jorgenson did mention that competitors this year are slightly lower than normal because of the spike in hay prices and the cost of feed, but that the numbers in the younger classes continue to grow, and she added that paints a promising future for the young riders program.

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