GREENSBURG – Many may not realize it, but Decatur County is home to a champion equestrian competitor.
Doug Mohr, 23, first started showing quarter horses through 4-H when he was in the fifth grade at North Decatur Elementary School.
He’s continued showing and working with the animals ever since, including throughout his years at North Decatur Junior/Senior High School and his time as a student at Ball State University in Muncie.
“I’ve been showing horses for about 13 years,” he said. “I got my start at the Decatur County Fair.”
For the uninitiated, “showing” a quarter horse, according to Mohr, is a broad term, which has a range of connotations depending on the grade-level, age and skill level of the participant.
For this article, Mohr narrowed his explanation of the term to the activities in which he participated during his four years on the equestrian team at Ball State.
“Showing a horse,” he explained, “involves riding it and being judged on different techniques. The judges focus on how well you handle the horse and how skilled you are as a rider overall.”
Competitors, he continued, are expected to run the horse through certain “gaits” at every competition.
Those gaits include various combinations of walks, jogs, and canters and lopes. There are also backing maneuvers and spins and combinations thereof.
“We’re judged on how well we can take the horse through certain patterns and combinations,” Mohr said. “Those give the judge an idea of how well we ride, of how skilled we are.”
While the process may sound fairly straight forward, there’s one very big catch.
“In college, we don’t use our own horses,” Mohr explained. “We don’t even know the horses we ride and show.”
The quarter horses ridden in a college competition, Mohr continued, are owned by the school at which each competition is held. Before a competition, each participant draws a number corresponding to a random horse. The number drawn is the competitor’s horse for that show.