It’s been the best summer of her life according to Karlie Harper of Stout.
Not only did Harper take the crown literally by winning the 2015 Adams County Fair Queen competition the first evening of the fair, she took the crown figuratively as well by being crowned grand champion in senior western easy gaited equitation at this week’s Ohio State Fair.
Harper also placed fifth in senior easy gaited western pleasure and tenth in easy gaited English equitation, but the grand champion achievement really put an exclamation point on a very memorable summer for Harper and her family.
Before the fair Harper said she had no expectations of herself or her horse, Patches. That lack of pressure she put on herself may have been to her benefit as she took home the title she doubted she’d take home.
“My expectations for this year are to have fun doing what I live in this life no matter what place I get,” Harper said to The People’s Defender on July 26. Harper said this year overall was a “fun and rewarding experience.”
Harper said the show arena at the Ohio State Fair is much larger than the arena at the Adams County Fairgrounds but the size of the situation doesn’t affect her focus while riding.
“The arena is huge,” Harper said. “On my first time last year it looked overwhelming in person to see but when I’m on my horse my focus is not on anything but me and her.”
The culmination of a lot of hard work came together when Harper learned she had won, leaving her overwhelmed with joy according to her.
“[Winning] was a surprise,” Harper said. “There were more people in my class that there were last year so there were doubts that I would even get grand champion. When they announced I was grand champion, I was overwhelmed with joy. Me, my family and Patches have worked hard for that moment and it was all worth it once they announced me as grand champion.”
But which felt better? Winning fair queen or winning grand champion at the state level?
“I would choose both feel just as good as the other,” Harper said. “I have always wanted to win fair queen since I was a little girl as well as show at state. I have always wanted to see myself showing at the big arena at state. What made them both similar was I always thought I would never achieve either of them.”
It’s going to be hard to top this summer in terms of joy for Harper who said she never anticipated all of this for the summer of 2015.
“This has been the best summer ever,” Harper said. “This summer has been very good to me and my family and we are very grateful. I never expected it to have everything I accomplished with it.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391, firstname.lastname@example.org or @WUDefender on Twitter.