Betty Books

BETTY BOOKS competes during the 4-H and FFA horse show on Thursday at the Madison County Fair in Madison. 

MADISON — 4-H’ers showed audience members the ropes during the Madison County Fair horse show here Thursday.

The 4-H and FFA horse show consisted of all English, trail, reining, ranch pleasure, poles, barrels and stationary roping events that various ages of competitors were a part of.

Betty Books, a 15-year-old from Madison, competed in her favorite event with her horse, Sparky.

“Reining is the best,” she said smiling. “This is my favorite part of the fair.”

Reining consists of a precise pattern of stops, circles and spins that test how the horse and the owner work together. Competitors gave short commands or click to communicate directions to their companion. It takes a lot of hard work and practice.

Books has been in 4-H since she was 8 years old and has been training with Sparky for almost four years. Although her grandma raised the horse, Books finished training him for various events.

Since she is experienced, Books said nerves don’t always bother her, as she is excited to be doing what she loves.

“Sometimes I’m nervous, depending if it’s a new event for him,” she says while petting her horse.

Nerves did not stop Books from competing as she won the title of senior grand champion for the reining event during the show. Besides a few small details that she wants to work on, she is happy with the outcome of her performance.

“I feel like we could improve on some things, but otherwise we did good,” she said.

Helping with the show was Shalyn Miller of Norfolk, who is a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Rodeo Club. She was in 4-H from when she was 9 to 19 years old.

Like Books, her favorite part of competing was also the reining portion.

“Reining was my thing,” Miller said.

Although she couldn’t compete this year, she still wanted to come to the Madison County Fair.

“I told them that I’d help out this year,” she said. “The atmosphere is awesome.”

Miller said it’s different watching from the sidelines.

“I miss being on the horse,” she said. “It’s weird not competing after doing it for so many years.”

Both Miller and Books enjoy and appreciate the skills that they take away from 4-H and the community that it gives them.

“Being involved with 4-H means being able to help other people that need the help,” Books said.

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