ENTERPRISE — It’s a new age in the world of horse shows. No more riding around in dusty arenas with other competitors. In the shadow of a worsening pandemic, horse shows have gone virtual.
Brianna Micka is the 2020 4-H Eastern Oregon grand champion in equine showmanship, and she didn’t have to go any farther than her front yard to earn the honor.
Micka, a Joseph Charter School senior, is also one of the 2020-21 Chief Joseph Days honor court.
The 4-H event would normally be held at the Eastern Oregon Stock Show in Union. But this year it was held via submitted video clips.
“Brianna won just by riding around in our front yard,” said Brenda Micka, her mom.
It is the second year in a row that Brianna has earned the top 4-H award in equine showmanship.
Enterprise’s Bailey Vernam also competed in the virtual show, including the grand champion showmanship round. She secured access to the arena at the Wallowa County Fairgrounds to practice. As it turned out, it was a good idea, because that was a great place to film the video for the showmanship, Western equitation and English equitation classes.
But filming was not exactly easy. No portion of the submitted video could be longer than 90 seconds, according to Bailey’s mom, Shannon Vernam. So the routines were ridden — and shot — in several shorter time frames and had to be shot from the perspective and position of a judge.
“I don’t think anyone wants to do it that way again,” Shannon Vernam said.
Another 2020-21 Chief Joseph Days honor court member won honors at the Silver State National Finals High School Rodeo in Nevada.
Destiny Wecks, a Enterprise High School junior, entered the Miss High School Rodeo national contest. Unlike the horse show, the Miss High School Rodeo contest was an in-person, face-to-face event, in which social distancing rules were followed.
“I didn’t win the rodeo queen competition,” she said. “But I won the Directors, Congeniality and Spirit categories.”
Wecks also competed in the Eastern Oregon 4-H virtual horse show.
“It’s different than a regular horse show,” she said. “Because you’re filming your entry in the competition, you can keep doing the routine until you get it right. You get to do it on your own time. There’s a lot less stress.”
Wecks competed in English equitation and Western equitation. She won blue ribbons in both classes, took reserve champion in English equitation and competed in the grand championship round of showmanship.
Both Wecks and Micka will devote much of this summer to training horses, including their own.
Wecks plans to get more serious about barrel racing and will be training her 7-year-old horse in the sport, as well as working with clients’ foals and refining some green-broke horses. Micka will continue to work with her three horses, Rusty, Sophie and Chesney. Both are looking forward to next year’s Chief Joseph Days, where they will share a three-way honor queen crown with fellow CJD court member Casidee Harrod.