Galloping along for charity

CANFIELD — At first, Abigail Riblet didn’t take her love of all things equestrian and run with it, though she did trot and canter with it.

“A long time ago, my neighbor rode horses and she would let me ride on hers,” Abigail, 13, of Canfield, said.

During this loop-around, however, she was atop Bodiddly, her own Morgan horse, which she rode several times around the main ring Saturday morning at the Canfield Fairgrounds, site of the 17th annual Red, White and Blue Charity Horse show.

Hosting the three-day event, which ran Friday through Sunday, was the Inter-County Horsemen’s Association.

“We were looking for a registered quarter horse and we were lucky enough to come across him,” Abigail’s mother, Rebecca Riblet, said. “Someone saw him and said, ‘This is a good horse,’ and we were able to purchase him.”

The family got Bodiddly in February 2023 in the Cincinnati area, Riblet said, adding that Abigail began riding horses when she was 7 and has never looked back.

Saturday’s showing included a variety of horses, such as Saddlebreds, Morgans, Arabians and Half Arabians, walking and miniature horses, Roadsters, westerns and parade ones. Ribbons were distributed to those who finished in first through fifth place in a number of divisions, organizers said.

Of course, plenty of grooming and other preparations — including braiding — are necessary before the animals are ready to compete for all to see. Taking on that task was Hillary McGowan-Lang.

“I’ve been coming to this since I was a kid,” McGowan-Lang, of Randolph, said. “I brought 11 horses today.”

McGowan, who owns Imperial Equestrian near Atwater, spent part of Saturday in a barn stall meticulously performing braiding work on Next Big Thing, a Half Arabian horse that one of her clients owns. The animal was being groomed to look its best before making an appearance on the track.

Imperial Equestrian, established in 2015, has 15 horses used for training and year-round riding lessons from beginning to advanced levels. Also, showings are conducted May through October, said McGowan-Lang, a lifelong horse lover who began riding at a young age.

Brooke Kaschek, an ICHA board member, noted that along with many local riders, others who compete in the Red, White and Blue Horse show come from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. The organization also hosts 10 to 12 affiliated shows in the region, she said.

Some proceeds from this weekend’s event will go toward Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and other veteran organizations, she said.

An ICHA board member’s mother wanted the Red, White and Blue show to occur on or near Memorial Day as a way to honor and respect veterans of all military branches who served the nation, Kaschek added.

To that end, toward the end of Saturday’s performances, riders conducted a flag ceremony by holding flags while on their horses. One flag each represented the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.

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