Madison Ballou

Madison Ballou

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ PENINSULA HORSEPLAY: Fair time was chance to shine for Peninsula riders

FAIR TIME IS the most wonderful time of the year for those 4-H horse-showing youths. It’s their time to shine.

While it’s hectic for them (and their parents) as they scurry around to get ready and to keep the aisles clean of road apples, aka horse manure, it’s a joy to see all their horses bathed, groomed and primed to enter the show ring to share with family, friends and fairgoers the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and training.

The weekend of Aug. 15 was the Jefferson County Fair. The little bit of rain Friday, Aug. 14 did nothing to dampen their spirits, and I think they were happy we weren’t in the midst of a heat wave.

This past weekend was the Clallam County Fair, and hopefully you had a chance to stop by to stroll the aisles of the horse barns to see where the horses and riders hang out in between events; see their fun and informative signs sharing the horses’ names and biographies; and then watch them perform in the arena.

This Saturday and Sunday, the annual Peninsula Junior Rodeo takes to the dirt of the Clallam Fairgrounds. Its queen this year is Madison Ballou, 13, and a Stevens Middle School student.

The first time I saw Madison, she was a gutsy tot running barrels on her big horse at local Patterned Speed Horse shows. It was so fun to watch her and younger sister, Sierra, learn how to ride the patterns through all the gaming events with the help of their dedicated mother, Teresa Ballou.

As young as Madison is, it might be hard to fathom she’s been a member of the Peninsula Junior Rodeo Association (PJRA) for 11 years, and this is her second year as their queen.

It’s easy to see why as she’s dedicated to her sport, and she represents it well.

She is also a member of the Pony Express 4-H club, so look for her and her horse Skippy in Barn 3 at the Clallam Fair.

As PJRA queen, she and Skippy also will be leading the Grand Entry at the fair’s pro rodeo,as well as the junior rodeo.

Shout out to sponsors

Madison and Skippy travel all over Western Washington with her family to compete in junior rodeos. Because she’s a top contender and travels so much, she says she’s extremely grateful to be backed by local sponsors Cowboy Country, Ernst Fine Photography, Leitz Farms, The Other Guys Auto and Truck Center, Sam and Donna Parks, Port Angeles Veterinary Clinic, The Warehouse, Chimacum Saddlery and Tack, and Advantage Nissan.

Madison also is proud to represent PJRA and honored to be its queen. She sends a special thanks to photographer Ernst-Ulrich Shafer for donating his time to photograph all the PJRA royalty for more than 10 years.

I bought several cherished keepsakes from him during the time my niece was a 4-H member showing her horse.


A year has passed since Olympic Peninsula Equine Network’s Valerie Jackson and Diane Royall saved eight of the “Yakima foals” from starving to death because of overgrazing and overpopulating land on the Yakama Reservation.

Too young to travel to the slaughter house with their mothers, a great many horsemen stepped up along with OPEN to rescue them.

Diane was happy to share that the last three foals were adopted out earlier this month.

According to Diane, a few folks who took in those young horses pampered them and kept them isolated from other horses, which turned them into terribly spoiled monsters who didn’t even know how to talk horse baby talk.

After the initial juggling around trying to find local foster homes, the foals were put into herds where “we didn’t touch them; [we] let them grow up with the herd and be normal babies,” Diane said.

By being placed in a herd, they quickly learned to be normal horses.

“While rescuing them didn’t make financial sense, it was necessary to save them,” says Diane, who hopes the situation will never rear its ugly head again.

OPEN provides a much-needed service on the Peninsula year-round. Not only do they rescue horses who have been neglected or abused, but they serve as coordinators to find other homes for horses whose owners have fallen on hard times and can’t care for them anymore.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, OPEN is run strictly by donations and volunteers like Valerie and Diane who put their heart and souls into helping theses animals without any financial benefit to themselves. In fact, it’s a financial loss for them.

Thus, I’m urging those who can help to do so with a donation. Some decide to donate as little as $20 a month year-round. It might not sound like much, but all those small donations put together go a long way to helping those horses.

Trainer Shelby Vaughan spends countless hours helping to train OPEN’s horses for new homes through her business Foxbell Farm & Training at Olympic View Stables on Finn Hall Road.

She keeps two stalls there just for OPEN. And to help riders out, she’s offering adult dressage classes Tuesday and Thursday the stables. Call her at 206-399-7683.

“A lot of people trailer in and have fun with their horses while learning with Shelby,” says Diane.

On Sept. 5, OPEN is hosting another vet clinic with Dr. Sean Tuley of Tacoma. He offers all the usual vet services, including vaccines, dental work and even castration for colts. There is a $50 farm call, which he donates to OPEN, and all services are offered at a discounted rate.

Look up OPEN on Facebook or its website at or call 360-207-1688.


Fire managers closed Little Quilcene Trail from its trailhead to Tubal Cain Trailhead. They also closed the Mount Townsend Trail from the top of Mount Townsend to the Little Quilcene Trail as well as Forest Service Road 2820/2920-100 until further notice due to wildfires in the area.


■   Friday and Saturday — Back Country Horsemen’s Buckhorn Range chapter is hosting a prize ride and campout at Layton Hill Horse Camp, 2514 Chicken Coop Road, Sequim.

Potluck and pig roast will follow Saturday’s ride.

Riders can camp Friday for $20 or Saturday for $20 or both nights for $30.

Contact Nicole Short at 360-301-5139 or

■   Sept. 5 — Layton Hill Horse Camp’s second annual Cowboy Race.

Contact Judy Sage at 360-775-6500 or

■   Sept. 5-6, 10 a.m. — Back Country Horsemen’s annual Mount Mueller Camp and Ride Out.


Karen Griffiths‘ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Sunday.

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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