03/19/06 — They had tickets to ride, learn

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They had tickets to ride, learn

By Turner Walston
Published in News on March 19, 2006 2:01 AM

Horse riders and enthusiasts gathered Saturday at the fifth annual Eastern Carolina Regional Horse Festival at the Wayne Regional Fairgrounds to learn about proper care as well as more tricks of the trade.

The festival, which is hosted by the Regional Equine Information Network System, Region 13, is an educational resource for horse owners and riders in the region, said Eileen Coite, who serves as livestock extension agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Clinics on colt starting and trailer-loading were taught by Bill Scott. Dave Lamm and Rocky the Mule performed for attendees and Roger Moore and Dave Robart taught riding and horsemanship clinics. New this year was a mounted shooting demonstration.

Ms. Coite said Saturday's festival was one of the most successful since the event began in 2002. Visitors were asked to complete an evaluation to enhance future festivals.

"Our focus has shifted," Ms. Coite said. "We try to have what people have told us they want to see."

Elizabeth Rowe, 13, of Dudley took the opportunity to improve her horsemanship skills. Elizabeth has shown her horse, Lizzie, more than 20 times, including a performance last year at the North Carolina State Fair. She said getting to the next level will take lots of practice.

She said the end result will be worth the work.

"It takes a lot of work to train a horse to do something, but once you get it there, it's kind of an accomplishment," she said. "I know what to work on now, I know what some of my problems are that we need to work on. I think that if we practice, I can get better."

Elizabeth hopes she can ride Lizzie to the top of the showmanship circuit.

"We're going to try to qualify for State, so we can try to qualify for Regionals," she said.

Ms. Coite said festival attendees came from as far away as Raleigh. The horse festival is the only one of its kind east of the capital city, she said, and is still growing.

"We're targeting the whole eastern part of the state," she added.