There was no hitch in 9-year-old Taylor Ossowski’s giddyup as she took the reins of her horse, Chase.
The Frankfort resident was one of nearly 30 area children on hand Jan. 5 to participate in Nova Quarter Horses’ annual Winter Camp Horse Show.
Taylor and Chase set out to reign in the judges’ attention and went on to earn second place honors in their heat.
“It was really fun,” Taylor said. “I love the horse I rode. He’s Chase, and I think we get along really well.”
The event was meant to provide an opportunity to test the knowledge and skills of the participants and showcase to their families what they’ve learned the week of Jan. 2-5 during Nova Quarter Horses Winter Camp.
Throughout the program, children learned about the importance of showing respect for the horses and how to care for them.
“I show them every aspect of what we do at Nova [Quarter Horses,] whether they want to be a show kid or they want to be a trail rider,” said Lorri Ebeling, owner of Nova Quarter Horses. “They can experience everything, and then they make the choice. Some kids want to show, so then they would be on the show team next. It’s to show their parents how they drop them off on Monday never riding a horse and by Friday, they compete in a horse show. So, that’s how knowledgeable the horses are and how well they teach the kids to be good riders.”
Ebeling said it is very impressive to see how children, if they’d never rode a horse before, are able to complete a four-day camp and compete in a show to cap it off.
Event organizers set up four separate heats for participants to compete in, with a trophy and a ribbon awarded to those who placed first through sixth place.
Two years ago, Taylor went on a trail ride and later started taking horseback riding lessons. Since that time, she has participated in a number of camps and events through Nova Quarter Horses.
“I feel like the last few times I rid more like beginner lesson horses, and now, I feel like I’ve ridden like a harder horse,” Taylor said. “I feel like it was … more of a challenge.”
Taylor said one challenge she had while riding Chase in the show was leading forward with the leg.
“He doesn’t like it, and sometimes he will kick out,” she said.
Lesson horses tend to be easier for beginning riders, Taylor said. The show horses typically allow a rider to exert greater control.
Taylor’s mom, Tiffany Ossowski, said she’s seen a lot of growth in her daughter since the last time she participated in the Nova Quarter Winter Horse Show.
“You’re in more control when you ride a show horse,” Tiffany said of Taylor.
Gianna Fasano, 11, of New Lenox, was taking the reins of Rodney during the Winter Camp Horse Show.
“It was pretty easy,” she said. “I like [him] a lot.”
This year was Gianna’s first time participating in the event, though she has previous experience with horses, having already taken English horseback riding lessons elsewhere. Throughout the four-day camp at Nova Quarter Horses, she said she learned something new.
“I learned how to lope, which is basically cantering,” Gianna said. “Cantering is basically when you go into a trot, but it’s faster than a slow gallop.”
Gianna capped off the Winter Camp Horse Show by taking first place in her heat.
“[I was] kind of surprised, just because I really thought I wouldn’t be getting first place,” she said. “It’s so easy.”
Gianna’s mother, Gina Fasano, said watching her daughter compete in the show brought great meaning to her.
“All my life, I was interested in horses,” she said. “I rode when I was younger, not that much. I always wanted my children to ride horses, and she took interest to it, and here she is.”
It was not until recently that Gianna began taking horseback riding lessons.
“Like I said, this was her first show—very, very proud of her,” Gina said. “Very, very surprised she got first place. She really likes it. She’s really relaxed when she’s riding and catches on very easily.”
“It was amazing to see her,” Gina said. “The way she rode, her posture was just so perfect. [I’m] very proud of her.”