Q&A: Horse Showmanship Classes at the Polk County Youth Fair


Horse Committee Chair Jessica Slaughter Shares What’s on Tap for this Year

Since 1947, the Polk County Youth Fair has been educating local youths about agriculture. Through a series of annual events like the Market Hog Show and Sale, participating youth learn how to raise various types of livestock, and bring them to market. There’s a Whip Popping Contest, cake auctions, a Sew Off Contest, a Chili Cook-off, and a host of other events. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

The 67th Polk County Youth Fair kicks off this Saturday and runs through Friday, January 31, at the Agriculture Center in Bartow. On the slate of events are a Horse Show, Market Hog Show and Sale, Dog Showmanship Class, Beef Breeding Show/Showmanship, and Poultry Showmanship. There will be a Top Ranch Hand Contest, a Table setting and Menu Planning Contest, Perishable and Non-Perishable Exhibits, an Archery Competition, Storytelling and Horticulture Judging contests, and a Blueberry, Citrus, Peach and Ornamental Plant Sale.

We interviewed Jessica Slaughter, who chairs the Polk County Youth Fair Horse Committee, about the Horse Show that has been part of the fair since the beginning.

Central Florida Ag News (CFAN): What’s new this year with the Horse Showmanship event?
Jessica Slaughter: This year we have added horse judging (for teams and individuals), egg and spoon, musical flags, stakes, and keyhole.

CFAN: What seems to be the most popular event in this year’s Horse Showmanship competition?
Slaughter: The most popular event would be the costume class. Each exhibitor and their horse will dress up as a team. Not only is it the most fun event to participate in, but it is one of the best ones to watch.

CFAN: Tell me a little bit about this year’s entrants.
Slaughter: There are approximately 50 exhibitors this year. The majority of the entrants are at the intermediate and senior level. We do have a lot of returning participants as well.

CFAN: Where are most of the contestants coming from— 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of American (FFA), or Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FFCLA)?
Slaughter: It is mostly a mix between FFA and 4-H.

CFAN: How will the event be judged?
Slaughter: The majority of the events are evaluated by a judge. The “Speed Events” are timed events, so the fastest time wins.

CFAN: Can you tell us about your role?
Slaughter: As chair of the Polk County Youth Fair Horse Committee, I am working with an excellent committee who has also been involved in the horse industry for years: Polly Scott, Sarah Scott, Jennifer Edmund, Beverly Lay, and Mario Tarango. Our committee is in charge of recommending the rules for the show, hiring judges, and organizing all of the events the day of the show.

CFAN: What does the Horse Showmanship event teach youth entrants?
Slaughter: Some projects are seasonal, but the horse project is year round. They learn the responsibility of taking care of an animal. They also have to keep a record book, so the youths will learn how much it costs to take care of this animal all year long. They also learn good sportsmanship.

CFAN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Slaughter: We are excited about the 67th Annual Polk County Youth Fair. We are looking forward to a great horse show. We want to wish all exhibitors good luck. The Youth Fair is about showing others what you have worked hard for all year, meeting new people, and making great memories that will last a lifetime.

For more details about the fair, call (863) 519-8677, ext. 116, or visit http://www.pcyf.net/
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