With the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair coming up this weekend, 17-year-old equestrian Logan Mackenzie is preparing to compete in the English and Western horse shows.
Held annually since 1897 and at the Carroll County Agriculture Center since 1954, the fair is set to open officially Saturday and run through Aug. 6.
Over the years the fair has evolved into one of Carroll’s signature entertainment events, featuring live music and some motor sports, as well as pig racing and blacksmith demonstrations.
The main purpose of the fair, however, remains showcasing 4-H and FFA members’ projects, ranging from livestock, crafts and gardening to technology and fine arts.
Mackenzie, of Lineboro, has been active in 4-H for 11 years and is currently president of the Gunpowder 4-H Club and a member of the High Ridge 4-H Club.
In preparation for the upcoming fair competitions, the Manchester Valley High School junior said he has been riding five days a week on several horses that he leases from High Ridge Farm in Manchester.
“Brody is my English jumper, and I ride him four times a week for at least an hour,” he said. “I love jumping and riding English … It feels like an art form.”
Mackenzie also rides a thoroughbred horse named Baby Bear who is “known for speed but looks funny when running” and another horse named Fanny for Western riding.
While English riding features an English saddle, which is small, light and designed to give the rider a closer contact with the horse’s back, a Western saddle is designed to be larger and heavier, allowing the weight of the rider to be spread over a larger area of the horse’s back which makes it more comfortable.
Another difference is that English riding involves the rider having direct contact with the horse’s mouth via the reins. In Western riding, however, horses are mainly ridden with little to no contact with the riders, who use their seat, weight and neck reining to give instructions in direction to the horse.
He said, through his experience in 4-H, he’s not only improved his communication skills but has also decided to pursue a career as a farrier, or a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves and the placing of the shoes.
Although he’s won several awards previously, including high point champion in the state, Mackenzie said he doesn’t do it for the competition.
“I go in it to have fun and to see how much I’ve improved,” he said. “If you worry about winning, you get stressed and won’t have as much fun.”
Candy Cole, the former leader of the Gunpowder 4-H Club, said Mackenzie has been riding horses at her farm since he was 6.
“He’s very kind with the animals and very caring,” Cole said. “People are amazed by all his ability and knowledge.”
She said she can’t believe how much he has grown over the past decade.
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“He used to complain every day,” she said, but now he spends a majority of his time at the farm working with the horses.
Tracy Mackenzie, his mom, said he is “riding all time” and “competing in shows all year round.”
“He doesn’t care about ribbons … He really does it to make memories with his friends,” she said, adding he is sometimes at the farm “from sunup to sundown.”
Tracy Mackenzie mentioned her son has learned “so much responsibility” from being around animals and has made “so many lifelong friends.”
Logan Mackenzie encouraged others to look into joining 4-H clubs.
“I don’t think people understand ... 4-H is a big family,” he said. “Everyone is very supportive and wants to help you better yourself for the next year.”