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Local equestrian youth earn high ratings at state show

While the COVID-19 crisis has managed to change things for the entire community, local equestrian youth felt its impact keenly. Meeting after meeting, show after show, events were being canceled right and left. While many people were “mildly inconvenienced” by closures and cancellations, these young people, who had worked day in and day out to make sure that they and their horses were ready to compete, watched with dismay as their yearly goal markers got crushed.

Vanessa Simmons, Anna Kate Foster, Georgia Lowe, Trilby Jones, and Temply Jones, members of the Crenshaw County 4-H Trailblazers, have all been ready, willing and able to show their horses in open competition.

“Every week, they waited to see what would get shut down next week but they never gave up hope and they never stopped practicing,” says Laura Simmons, mother of Vanessa.

“There was always hope that they would get to attend something, somewhere to give them the chance to display all their hard work and just how much they had improved over the last year.”

They finally got that opportunity over the Labor Day weekend as the Alabama Open Horseman’s Association (AOHA) held their 33rd Annual State Championship Show.

Collectively, the five young horsewomen managed to bring home nine Top Ten placings out of over 1,600 entries in a number of different divisions.

“Each and every one of these outstanding young equestrians gave it their all. Their early mornings and late nights paid off in displaying some of their best rides yet,” Simmons said with pride.

“They continue to do better and better every time they enter the ring. Going in, I tell the girls, don’t judge your ride by anyone else’s, just as long as you do your personal best. Those placings mean nothing if this ride isn’t better than your last.”

Simmons stresses that convincing a half-ton of temperamental horseflesh to do what you ask is always a “two steps forward, one step back” scenario.

“I am so very proud of how far this team has come in the last few months. They showed up, showed out, and represented Crenshaw County well,” Simmons said.

She says the team of equestrians extends its gratitude to parents, family, friends and the community for supporting their passion.

“We are all looking forward to an even better 2021,” Simmons said.