Grace Gunderson is a city girl, but she loves horses and she loves 4-H.
Grace, 13, is involved in the Becker County 4-H Horse Project, and will compete at the county fair this year.
She lives in Detroit Lakes, but boards her horse, Anoka, with the family of her friend Greta Lindstrom in Lake Park.
Grace clearly adores Anoka, whose blonde mane was nicely braided on Wednesday, and the 12-year-old American Paint Horse was protected on the face and ears from biting flies by “fly mash,” a sort of veil that lets horses see without being plagued by flies.
“She’s very sweet,” Grace said of her horse. She’s only been bucked off once, when the horse was “fresh” with pent-up energy after not being ridden in a week while Grace was gone camping, she said.
“This is my first year in 4-H, but I’ve been riding since I was 7, since I was very little,” she said. She bought Anoka in May and braided the horse’s mane herself for the fair.
Grace watched her friend, Morgan Olson of Detroit Lakes, in the horse competitions at the fair last year, and that made her want to get involved this year. She’ll compete this year in western gaming and western pleasure riding.
Western Games consist of speed pattern racing, events designed to display precise, controlled actions, and tight teamwork between horse and rider at speed. Classes include Barrel Racing, Key Race, Two-Barrel Flag Race, International Flag Race, Figure 8 Stake Race and Pole Bending.
“It’s very fun,” Grace said.
Western pleasure riding involves putting the horse through its paces in the show arena at walking speed and at a cantor. “It’s very slow,” Grace said. “It’s very hard for her (Anoka). She likes to go.”
Grace helps pay for the horse by helping out at Schultz Garage & Bus Company, owned by her father, Mike Gunderson, and mother, Jeni Gunderson.
She’s lucky in that two older siblings -- her brother, Max, 18, and a sister, Sophie, 16 -- can drive her to Lake Park to ride her horse.
She also has another older sister, Olivia, 15, and a little sister, Avery, 7.
“I’m the only one in the family in 4-H,” Grace said. “I just like it a lot.”