Justin Melvin received a special present Monday for his 16th birthday — but he earned it. Justin was named Showman of Showmen in the western showmanship horse show at the Delaware County Fair. Taking reserve was Claire Chatterton of JJ’s E-Z Riders.
Early on in the morning, Justin was seen working with his horse Molly practicing the pattern that would be used in the ring.
Coming in first in his class for those aged 15 to 18, Justin said the main thing to do is practice. While waiting for the Showman of Showmen class, he said he was not really worried.
Eight-year-old horse Molly was not quite as calm, moving around quite a bit while waiting for the final class.
“She’s bored,” Justin said.
Scott Martin was another competitor that practiced before his class, pivoting and backing up his horse, 16-year-old Austin. He competed in ponies under 58 inches for competitors aged 14 to 18.
In the ring, it looked effortless, but Scott came in second in his class.
He said afterward that he forgot to have Austin back up in the pattern.
While Justin and others were waiting for the final class, they were reminded to study the pattern for the showmanship class.
Throughout the classes, the announcer kept urging the competitors to be ready to show in a futile effort to beat the rain. There was no sun to catch the brightly colored outfits that many of the competitors wore. In other years, the sun would glint off the rhinestones. This year there were only grey skies with it so overcast that the arena lights remained on throughout the show.
In the final showmanship class, each horse was led through a pattern of moves that included backing, pivoting, trotting and staying in stance under the watchful eyes of the judge. Each competitor, in turn, always kept the judge in view.
After marking her results, the sheet was sent up the pulley to the announcer’s stand where results were announced.
Justin said afterward that “reserve should have won.”
In between hugs and congratulations, he said he would probably compete in the Showman of Showmen competition on Wednesday.
Working with Molly for the past two years, Justin reiterated that practice was the best way to earn the title. He is also showing two pigs and a cow this year at the fair, admitting he liked showing pigs the best.
And how was he going to celebrate the rest of his 16th birthday?
Smiling shyly, he said, “Showing the rest of my animals.”
Besides Justin competing in the showman of showmen class were Samuel Smallets with Cowboy Convoy; Mariah Hastilow with Cinch ‘N Saddle; Allison Kiger, JJ’s E-Z Riders; Claire Chatterson, JJ’s E-Z Riders; Morgan Kiehl, Wild Riders; and Tracey Culley, Bellepoint Friendly 4-Her’s.
Showmanship was able to conclude with only sprinkles, but it began to rain heavier soon after.