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Julia May and Katelynn Huebsch with their horses

Julia May and Katelynn Huebsch with their horses, Mae and Emmy, along with their trophies for overall performance and games in each of their divisions. May is in senior division and Huebsch in intermediate.

OSAGE – At this year’s Mitchell County Fair Horse and Pony games, Senior division exhibitor Julia May and Intermediate division exhibitor Katelynn Huebsch were the overall winners in both their performance and pony games classes of their respective divisions.

May, who has been showing for the past two years at the fair and riding five years, competed on her 15-year-old Sorrel Quarter Horse, Mae, who she’s owned for the past four years. While Huebsch, who has been riding since she was two, competed on her 19-year old Red Roan Quarter horse, Emmy, in her fourth outing riding in the fair event.

“She was my aunt’s old barrel horse,” said Huebsch, who, along with May, is a member of the North Iowa Saddle Club Association.

Both were quick to point out how much time and effort has to be put into working with their horses in order to go out and compete at the level they did.

“It takes time to learn how to be one with them,” May said. “Especially if you ride multiple horses. Every horse is totally different. You can’t just hop on someone else’s horse and perform the way you would on your horse. Like I couldn’t jump on Katelynn’s horse and perform the way I did in the events.”

Still, both also acknowledged there were things they still had difficulty teaching their horses to do and were continuing to work on them. For May, it is the jumping figure 8, while for Huebsch, it’s the keyhole.

“It’s because of the time,” Huebsch said. “You want to get the best time you can, but the horse has to turn on a dime and sometimes they get in there and they struggle to make that turn with all that momentum they have going.”

Each day, the pair not only work with their horses, but see to their care and comfort, feeding and cleaning up around their stalls.

“You have chores twice a day,” May said. “Morning and afternoon. You groom, you talk to them, and you check over their hooves and make sure they are clean and comfortable. It takes a lot of time to get where we’ve gotten. You have to work with them every day, you have to stay calm with them because they vibe off of your energy”

Both consider their best events to be pole bending and barrels, for the challenge of them and the way they have to look at angles and placement in order to direct their horses as needed. Teaching a horse to perform takes patience, but it also takes a very special connection to the horse.

“I love everything about them,” Huebsch said. “But one of the things I love most is the bond I have with my horse. The connection with them. They have been one of my biggest blessings and they consume my life.”

For both, horses have become a big part of their lives and each spends hours a day on horseback working with their mounts and perfecting their skills. Both plan to do college rodeo, in the future, and plan have horses remain an integral part of their lives going forward.

“My life will always revolve around horses,” Huebsch said. “I get it from my aunt Gretta. She inspired my love for horses. I can’t just disconnect from them. I could never just say I’m selling my horse. She is a part of me.”

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