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The 2018 Horse Show at Ag Park in Columbus is a mainstay of the Platte County Fair, having been an annual event longer than most people can remember.

From novice to senior level and competitions in more than a dozen categories, 4-H members gather to showcase their and their horse’s skills.

This year’s event, held Tuesday, featured 22 horses, which is an increase from past years. Competitors ranged in age from 8-18 and were all members of the 4-H Horse Project. The 4-H Horse Project focuses on all aspects of having a horse, including care, riding techniques, health of the animal, vaccinations and preparing for shows. Riders generally work with their horses for about 8-18 months as part of this project. Although not required, most 4-H’ers end up competing in this event, as it represents the culmination of all of their work.

Justin and Levi Lutjelusche were two of the participants in this year’s horse show.

They are third generation Horse Show participants, going back to their grandmother, Colleen Dubsky. She owned and showed horses, and got her daughter, Courtney, involved at a young age. Courtney Lutjelusche is now the mother of two sons who compete in this and many other horse events. Lutjelusche, who grew up outside of Schuyler and participated in 4-H, began showing horses at age 1 ½. She participated in the Platte County Fair Horse Show for about 10 years. Now her sons, Justin and Levi, are carrying on the tradition.

“It teaches you self-confidence and composure, and you create friendships that last a long time,” she said in response as to why she got her sons involved in horse showing.

All events except for the ‘trails’ were held in the Ag Park arena. Although working as a unit, some divisions judge the horse, some judge the rider and some judge both. The halter division separates horses by age and gender of the horse, and judging is focused on the horse, how it looks and its movements.

Showmanship judging is a reflection of the rider and how he or she holds his or her posture and get the horse to respond to commands. Judging the performance category considers both the rider and the horse and how they work together to perform a specified pattern. Other categories included speed, such as barrel racing and pole bending, and trail riding in which an actual trail was set up for the riders to maneuver through.

Jill Goedeken, extension educator with Platte County's Nebraska Extension office, is one of many who helped organize the horse show and other 4-H entries in the fair.

“4-H couldn’t happen without great volunteers that help pull it all together,” she said.

From preparations, setting up the arena, printing programs, organizing riders and keeping the event running smoothly, a small army of volunteers help keep the event coming back every year and through multiple generations.

Linda Briley is a news clerk for The Columbus Telegram. reach her via email at


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