These Western games 4-H competitors are all smiles after racking up the points and having a successful run during the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Clockwise from top left are Marissa Wilson

These Western games 4-H competitors are all smiles after racking up the points and having a successful run during the Western Washington State Fair in Puyallup. Clockwise from top left are Marissa Wilson


LATELY, MY COLUMNS have featured how well our Peninsula 4-H youths performed at September’s state fair in Puyallup.

At one point, I was asked why I’ve featured the riders in so many different columns.

Why didn’t I just gather them all together for one photo shoot, feature them in one column and be done with it?

Well, why would I do that when they all competed at the fair at different times, in different riding styles (performance, games, hunters and jumpers) and in different age groups (intermediate, ages 9 to 13, and seniors, ages 14 to 18)?

Personally, I like giving our youths personal recognition for their hard-earned achievements.

What’s more, I think it’s a crying shame the numbers of youths participating in 4-H — an organization that helps instill moral strengths and high values — is dwindling.

In fact, one of our local 4-H leaders told me that 4-H groups and shows might soon become a distant memory due to a lack of funding and interest.

If that happens, what are our youths supposed to do after school and on weekends?

Hang out in their bedrooms, hands on their electronic gizmos and chat with their online friends?

I’d rather see them with hands on their horses, giggling with friends and developing life skills.

To find out more about local 4-H clubs, email adviser Jenny Schmidt at

Puyallup Fair Senior games results:

■ Poles: Ashley Farmer, Ciara Gentry, Lydia Cornelson and Marissa Wilson, white ribbons.

■ Figure eight: Ashley, Lydia, Marissa, Suzanne Heistand, white ribbons.

■ Key race: Ciara, blue; Marissa, red; Suzanne and Lydia, white ribbons.

■ International flags: Ashley, Suzanne, white.

■ Flags: Ashley, blue; Lydia, Marissa, Suzanne, white.

■ Barrels: Suzanne, red; Ashley, Ciara, Lydia, Marissa, white.


Speaking of Western games, oh, how I love the speed and finesse shown by the top athletic horses and riders.

Thankfully, I don’t have to travel far to see a great race because some of the top 10 in the state live right here on the Peninsula.

And this Saturday and Sunday, many of the best in the state will be gathered at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles for the Patterned Speed Horse Association’s annual meeting and banquet.

I don’t want to name names, lest I forget someone important, but I will be in attendance as PSHA’s Web master and looking to pull a fun prank on my pal and past PSHA President Lesa Bland, so don’t say you weren’t warned Lesa (anyone have a good idea to share?).

Home trim

If you read my Oct. 9 column, you know I’ve been battling a painful bout of laminitis with my Shetland pony, Snow.

While he’s gotten better through feeding him special low-starch food and allowing him access to the pasture grass only when wearing a grazing muzzle, walking and standing are still a bit painful for him.

In researching laminitis, I learned the importance of keeping the inflicted hooves trimmed short through small, frequent trims, the type of trim and why.

The problem is this month, my farrier is off in another state for three weeks deer hunting, and he’s retiring soon, so I figured this was a good time to try my hand at trimming Snow’s hooves.

My prior experience is only that of taking a loose shoe off, filing the hoof and then reattaching the shoe — and I wasn’t very good at it.

However, I do own a couple of farrier tools, and for years, I’ve been studying how to do it and what to look for, mostly because I wanted to recognize what a good farrier’s work should look like.

On Saturday, I mustered up the courage to tackle trimming his hooves.

First, I led him out of the cold and mud and into the garage.

There, I had him stand on a rubber mat to cushion his aching feet and legs.

At first, I tried leaning over and picking his hoof up to trim it, but there was no way my damaged back and body could sustain being stooped over low and in such an awkward position for long, much less attempting to accurately trim his little hooves.

I decided the easiest and most efficient way to do it was to sit my butt down on the cement, prop his tiny hoof up on my knee and get to work.

I must admit it took me awhile, but I wasn’t in a hurry.

I took breaks so Snow didn’t have to stand on one leg too long.

My hoof nippers proved too large and awkward in my small hands.

After switching to tile nippers, I had great success, needing only to nip a bit off the toe and sides.

The rest I used a big rasp to file it down and balance it out.

In the end, they weren’t perfect, but they turned out OK.

The best part of all is when finished, Snow was able to walk faster than me back to his stall.

And he appears happier.

I should add I do not advise others to sit on the ground with their horses towering above to trim hooves.

I think that is one time when sitting down on the job could actually be quite dangerous.


■ 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday — Jefferson Equestrian Association fundraiser dinner at The Blue Moose Cafe, 311 Haines Place (Boat Haven), Port Townsend. Phone Christine Headley at 360-286-9256.

■ Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9-10 — Dr. Richard Vetter’s fall equine dental clinic at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Since it’s often easier and less expensive to combine procedures while the horse is sedated during dental work, the vet can perform other needed procedures, such as sheath cleaning, caslicks on older mares and vaccinations. To schedule an appointment, contact Betty Mysak at or 360-643-3222.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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