Morning News â€” Leslie Mielke
This rider is going all out toward the polo turn in the O-Mok-See National Championship at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds Tuesday. O-Mok-See events begin at 9 a.m. today at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. Competition continues through Friday. Today's events include pole bending, flag race, arena race and team arena.
O-Mok-See is the sport of pattern horse racing. This is the first time the O-Mok-See National Championship has been in Idaho although this is the 47th annual championship.
The O-Mok-See will be at the Eastern Idaho State Fairgrounds (EISF) through Friday.
Competitors race in age categories that range from 7 & under to senior men and women. Senior events are for anyone who is 39 or older.
There are three lanes of racers. Each lane is timed.
Competitors are racing for record-breaking times set in previous O-Mok-Sees.
Real horsemanship is on display as riders race their horses down the lane, rein them in to circle a pattern and then race them back to the finish line.
"It's fun; I enjoy it," said arena judge Kandi Karnath from Kuna. "I did it as a kid and then started again as an adult in 1999."
Karnath is a member of the Northwest Spectacular O-Mok-See. That organization is host of this year's O-Mok-See.
"It's one of the few horse events that a whole family can do," she said. For example, in the 7 & under category, "if they can ride without a lead line, they can be out there."
"Families plan their vacations around O-Mok-See," Karnath said. "We only see each other once a year but we keep in contact by Facebook and email.
"People really encourage people and show a lot of sportsmanship," Karnath said. "It's fun to have a great, great ride, especially if it's my ride, but people encourage you whatever way the ride goes.
"It's addicting," she said. "Once you do it, you kind of get hooked."
"You can find every breed of horse here," said Sheila Billington from Snohomish, Wash. "Horses are smart.
"The horses learn the patterns," she said. "Once they know the patterns, you can almost let them lead."
Admittedly, there is lots of work in training the horses to learn the patterns.
"It's not a money sport," saidDick McLean from Havre, Mont. "It depends on how much you want to put into it to find how much you get out of it."
Events begin each day at 9 a.m. except for Thursday when events begin at noon. All events are at the EISF. Today's events include Pole Bending, Flag Race, Arena Race and Team Arena.
Admission to all events is free to all events. The public is welcome.