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A person can love horses, but have no operating skills

June 27, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

I love horses, and I love writing about them. Basically because to write about a horse, you have to be with the horse, to pet him and get to know him.

Several years ago now I wrote about the harness horses owned by Ronnie Emerson - er, Dr. Ron Emerson - and Mark Holtan that are stabled at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds. It's one of those things I'd like to be part of from the inside out, but that's not likely to happen.

Emerson did promise, however, that I could take one of the horses around the track if ever I get myself up to Humboldt when they're practicing. I'd go in an instant, but when that instant rolls around, my thinking mind kicks in and screams "You know better than that!"

Well, I could do it. I know I could. Except if I fell out of the seat on a sharp turn or something equally as nasty.

Anyway, harness horses will race at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and July 4. Holtan said there will be 150 horses racing that weekend, all 2- and 3-year-old horses bred and born in Iowa, then raised and trained for harness racing.

I'm not the only one who loves horses. Lots of people do. Like Donna and Bob Stark, of Fort Dodge. And their grandson, Nick Murphy, of Jackson, Mo. He's been riding for years, Donna Stark said, and this summer he's been chosen to participate with Team USA in the Youth World Cup horse riding competitions Saturday through July 11 in Oklahoma City.

Son of Linda and Mike Stark, Nick will be a senior this fall at Saxony Lutheran High School. He calls the World Cup "a once-in-a-lifetime experience" and said he hopes all his hard work pays off. That hard work has been a summer of training, training and more training after years and years of training.

The competition, the American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Cup, will feature teams from 17 countries, including Canada, France, Australia, Italy and the Czech Republic. Murphy is one of five young people to represent the United States.

He will compete in reining - guiding his horse through a controlled pattern of movements. But the real trick will be riding a strange horse. Participants don't ride their own horses; they draw for mounts provided by the host country.

"I'm sure he's doing the reining and cutting," Donna Stark said. "But I'm not definite on that. He normally rides pleasure, too."

The Starks will be at the competition, she said. They'll be at the July 11 awards ceremonies, too, and are hoping to see their grandson win some awards.

"We're hoping so," she said. "Every grandparent hopes for things like that."

Guess so. If I were a grandparent, I'd hope for a pony for the kid and a big horse for me, with someone to teach me how to ride and take care of my big horse.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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