Trots and turns: WHOA benefit horse show held at Whiteside County Fairgrounds

Hadley Vandermyde, 6, of Morrison, warms up her pony Jubilee before competing at the WHOA benefit horse show on Saturday, June 22, 2024 at the Whiteside County fairgrounds in Morrison.

MORRISON – Saturday’s rain held off long enough for the White Oaks Therapeutic Equestrian Center’s 11th annual benefit horse show to go off without a hitch.

“It was a really good turnout,” said Tawny Wiersema, program director for WHOA. “There are some really quality horses here today.”

The event, held at the Whiteside County fairgrounds, offered 29 classes of competition, including pleasure and speed events, as well as some for plain old fun.

“We have around 40 riders taking part today,” Wiersema said.

The all-day event included barrel racing in two divisions: ages 18 and younger as well as an open class with no age limit.

Riders from Morrison, Amboy, Dixon, Sterling and Washington, Illinois, took part in the event.

Hadley Vandermyde, 6, of Morrison, was all business as she warmed up her 20-year-old pony, Jubilee, for the barrel races. Jubilee, wearing bright protective splint boots that matched Hadley’s helmet, carefully rounded the three barrels with the 6-year-old at the helm.

While some contestants were novices in the race, others such as Brynli Dotson raced around the barrels in less than 20 seconds.

Dotson, 14, of Washington, Illinois, and her horse Duke, posted a 17.2-second time to take first place.

A grilled cookout lunch also was offered at the Livestock Pavilion inside the fairgrounds, including sandwiches and baked goods.

Proceeds from the show and luncheon will benefit WHOA, which provides equine-assisted experiences.

Its mission is to “enhance the quality of life and cultivate personal growth through therapeutic, educational, recreational and social development for persons with disabilities ages 4 through adult. Interactions between horses and students have the ability to improve physical capabilities and skills, as well as social interaction, emotional stability, spiritual well-being, along with mental focus and processes.”

For information about WHOA, call Wiersema at 815-535-6208.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.