Winter Palmateer has been participating in equestrian activities since she was a toddler, and she will soon take a horse that she's been rehabilitating to the Oregon State Fair.
Winter, a 14-year-old incoming sophomore at Estacada High School, qualified for the statewide competition, to be held Friday, Aug. 23, through Monday, Sept. 2, in Salem, during the Clackamas County 4-H Horse Fair last month.
When Winter and her family adopted 9-year-old Missy two years ago, she was underweight and easily startled. She would often buck, lowering her head and raising her hindquarters, which made her difficult to ride.
"We never knew when she'd try to buck or be fine," Winter said, noting that riding Missy is sometimes akin to being on a roller coaster. "Sometimes she wants to go fast, and sometimes she goes slowly and doesn't want to go anywhere. There's not an in-between."
However, in spite of these challenges, Winter saw something in Missy that made her want to bring the horse to the fair.
"She needed a job, and she had a lot of potential," Winter said.
During the 4-H Horse Fair, Winter and Missy participated in barrel racing, flag racing, pulling, figure eights and key racing. At the state fair, the duo will compete in flag and barrel racing. They earned a championship in flag racing during the county event.
"It was a shock," Winter said, discussing their win at the county competition. "From then on, I haven't stopped working with her."
Because of Missy's background, Winter took several additional precautions to prepare her for the sights and sounds of the fair, including waving a flag, shaking a bottle full of rocks and using pool noodles to prepare her for the excitement at the fair.
"We took extra steps to desensitize her. We're transitioning away from that now and focusing more into the riding," she said.
Winter's mother Toni noted that this type of training has required Winter to return to basics again after years of riding.
"They had to go back to the beginning and build their way back up," Toni said.
Winter has been training with Missy daily to prepare for the state competition.
"We work on the events and try to get her ready for all of the commotion and excitement at the fair," she said. "Before, she couldn't even trot a pattern. Now she's doing a full speed run."
Along with the state fair, Winter and her brother Caleb, 11, will also show goats at the Clackamas County Fair from Tuesday, Aug. 13, through Saturday, Aug. 17. The pair will show both dairy and meat goats and sell market goats during the junior livestock event.
"I enjoy showing meat goats more than dairy. I'm used to horses and bigger animals," Winter said. "Dairy goats are very dainty."
Two common questions Winter typically gets asked while showing animals are if the goats are pregnant, and why she cuts their ears off.
"We don't do that. The goats we show, they're Lamancha goats, and they don't have ears with a longer flop," she explained. "Goats have big stomachs. They like to eat a lot of grain and hay."
When bringing the goats to the fair's arena, judges ask a variety of questions.
"They might ask general questions, like how to keep a goat," Winter said. "(In the arena), you walk a lot slower, make direct eye contact with the judges and try to present the goats as best as you can."
Sometimes 4-H members put their problem solving skills to use at the fair, including instances when they need to show multiple animals simultaneously.
"You work with the other 4-H members," Winter said. "I've shown other people's goats for them as well. (In 4-H), we have a very close relationship, and we work together well."
The goats can also get into mischief.
"They've tried to eat my ribbons before," Winter said.
Winter is passionate about working with her animals, particularly her horses. Along with Missy, she has two other horses named Denali and Sophie.
"I never remember a time I haven't been riding them," Winter said, noting that the longest she's been away from her horses is when she and her family went to Disneyland for a week.
She appreciates having grown up around the animals.
"I love being around horses and having the privilege to ride them as often as I do," she said.
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