Mid-Ohio Valley teens compete at state fair

While others enjoyed entertaining live music and events and consumed delicious fair food, three talented young women from the Mid-Ohio Valley traveled to Columbus to compete with their horses at the Ohio State Fair this week.

Aleena Bauerbach, 18, of Marietta, one of the three local girls competing at the Ohio State Fair, has been competing for about six years and said she was excited to be a part of the competition.

“I’ve been competing for five to six years now; I just like it,” she said. “You never know what will happen.”

Bauerbach first started riding at the ripe age of eight months, starting her love affair with horses very early in life.

Cassie Dennis, 13, of Vincent, and Sarah Grace Holbert, 14, of Williamstown, also competed in the Ohio State Fair in Columbus this week.

“I’m not sure completely how many people were there, but the arena was pretty full and there were a lot of kids outside,” said Dennis, who has been competing for three years. “People were everywhere.”

Holbert also noted the atmosphere and said the weather was certainly not ideal.

“It was crazy hot,” said Holbert. “There were horses everywhere.”

The competitions place the top 10 competitors. Dennis placed ninth out of 17 exhibitors in the English Showmanship competition and received a ribbon. Holbert did not place in the top 10 of her events.

Bauerbach had yet to receive her results. All competitors received a participation ribbon.

Each of the three girls had to qualify at various county competitions to compete at the Ohio State Fair.

They noted that they were excited to compete, but nerves were present when preparing for the competition.

“You sometimes feel kind of nervous at first, but once you get in the arena, you just want to be prepared and to perform your pattern and have fun,” said Dennis.

Holbert said she combats her nerves just by doing more shows.

“When I’m tense, the horse can sense how I’m feeling, so just doing more shows makes it better,” she said. “I was very nervous since it was my first time being there, but by the end, it was good.”

The girls noted that they felt they had a strong bond with their riding companions.

“I’ve had him for probably three months now,” said Bauerbach as she patted Rio. “I like him a lot, and I think he likes me – I feed him.”

Dennis said her relationship with Pepper was a little more complicated after three years.

“Sometimes it can get a little frustrating, but most of the time it’s pretty good,” she said. “I think I work really well with her.”

The three plan to continue to compete in the years to come due to their love for the sport.

“I feel like I’m getting better since I’ve only been showing for a year,” said Holbert. “Exactly one year ago was the first time I went in front of a judge and actually showed a horse.”

Dennis added that she hopes to find career goals that continue to involve her in the competition.

“I think it would be cool when I’m older to help kids experience what I had because it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Bauerbach said she wants to compete throughout her life and advance in the sport.

“I want to make it a career,” she said. “I plan on competing in the NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association).”

Overall, the girls felt that the Ohio State Fair was a good time and had positive attitudes about the whole experience.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Dennis. “You put a lot of hard work in, and it definitely pays off because having a lot of fun is the main thing and being proud of yourself is a thing I definitely like to do.”