Equestrians from every corner of Merced County made their way to the Merced County Fair Junior Horse Show and Gymkana on Saturday.
Run by Merced County 4-H for the past four years, in conjunction with the Merced County Fair, the event takes place at the Merced County Horsemen’s Association Arena.
It serves as a way for local young horse trainers and riders to show off their skills and learn from others. But in addition to competing for the top spot in each category, 4-H Program Representative Darlene McIntyre says the show also has another important purpose.
“It teaches them sportsmanship because we realize in 4-H it’s not all about winning and getting first place,” she said. “It shows them that it’s fun to compete with amazing kids and see what they can do, and what they can learn from each other.”
McIntyre went on to say that during her time working with the show, and with 4-H in general, she’s noticed that students also learn a variety of practices that carry over into other facets of their life as well.
“I get people coming back to me always telling me how communication skills they’ve received here have helped them grow, and how they’re not afraid now to stand up and do things. Or that the leadership skills have helped them to succeed in other programs, which they say is because of 4-H,” McIntyre said. “So it crosses over, and even into high school and college, or getting jobs. I’ve had alumni return and tell me that because of 4-H, I was able to go on and do different things.”
Those who were unable to make their way to the Merced County Fair Junior Horse Show and Gymkana on Saturday will have to opportunity to interact with a plethora of locally raised animals during the Merced County Fair, running until June 9. The Merced County Fair plays host to a variety of livestock exhibits that bring together everything from lambs and goats to rabbits and cattle.
To relive other moments from the Merced County Fair, readers can check out our coverage of the opening ceremonies that included a groundbreaking of a new shade structure, the races at the Merced Speedway that packed the grandstands, the jr. livestock auctions and showmanship competitions that brought 4-H and FFA’s best and brightest together, the special needs Friends Helping Friends Day on Friday, the S.T.E.M activities that UC Merced’s Mobile Maker Space brought to this year’s fair, or the live music performance of Canaan Smith. Those interested in seeing the sights of the Merced County Fair again can check out our photo gallery post covering the attractions, rodeo, and more from this year’s fair.