XENIA — Mikal Porter made his last state fair with his horse Tenderheart count.
The 16-year-old Xenia High School sophomore was grand champion in Easy Gaited Showmanship and placed sixth out of 24 riders in Trail In-Hand at the recently completed Ohio State Fair.
“I was very pleased with it,” Porter, who also won some honors at the Greene County Fair, said. “I was very pleased that our last year was a success.”
Despite its name, there is nothing simple about the Easy Gaited Showmanship.
“You’re actually showing them on the ground and you’re leading them,” Porter said. “You memorize a pattern and when you go to show, you do the pattern and present your horse to the judges. I had a really good pattern this year and I did really good.”
The pattern involves turning the horse 90 and 180 degrees, trotting and setting up the horse (making the four feet even in a box).
The grand championship is the second for Porter and Tenderheart. Porter won in 2012 as well and has been reserve grand champion (second place) four times.
Porter was equally — if not more — excited about his Trail In-Hand finish. That involves various obstacles and leading the horse forward, backward and over bridges.
“It’s a quite complicated pattern,” he said. “I’ve never actually done it before. Placing sixth was a huge success this year.”
Porter showed a different horse at the Greene County Fair and hopes that horse will get to “the level of Tenderheart.”
As for the two-time grand champion horse: “She’s just going to be a retired horse in the pasture,” Porter said.
Porter has been in 4-H and showing horses and pigs since he was 9-years-old. He is a member of the Jamestown Jr. Farmers Club and was vice-president of the Xenia High School FFA chapter.
Scott Halasz covers Xenia and Greene County for the Gazette. He can be reached at 937-372-4444, ext. 137.