Showmanship kicks off fair week

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In her fourth year of horse showmanship, 12-year-old Jameson Benson, of Castle Rock, wasn’t expecting to win. So when her number was called as the winner, she was pleasantly surprised.

Benson took first place in the English equestrian category with her horse Cletus at the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo on Aug. 1.

“I was really happy,” Benson said. “It was my first time getting first place at fair and also first time with (Cletus),” she said. “So I’m really happy with him.”

Benson and many other young ladies competed in the English showmanship and English equestrian competitions in the outdoor and indoor arenas at the fair.

Benson has only been with Cletus for a month, but said she already feels connected to him. She started riding her grandmother’s horses years ago, and then moved up, getting her own horses. After warming up with Cletus before the competition, Benson said she felt confident, yet humble in the arena. She enjoys the competition, particularly the friendly competition at the fair.

“I like how it’s a friendly competition and we can congratulate each other,” she said. “Everyone is really friendly and we get ribbons if we win. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Benson also competed in the Gymkhana competition later in the day. This competition involves speed events using flags, poles and other obstacles in the arena.

Showmanship competitions started out the week at the fair, but many other events are scheduled including a horse sale, sheep and goat shows, live music, and rodeos. The carnival and championship bull riding event comes to town Aug. 4.

The weekend is packed with family activities such as Douglas County Ranch Rodeo and Kids Ranch Challenge with open mutton busting, free face painting and pictures taken with a bunny Aug. 6. Three PRCA rodeo performances are scheduled this week: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5; 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6; and 1 p.m. Aug. 7.

The Douglas County Fair and Rodeo is Aug. 1-7 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Way in Castle Rock. For more information or a full schedule of events visit www.douglascountyfairandrodeo.com.