By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Only 8 years old, Mallorie Leavitt already was right at home riding her horse Ginger on a recent afternoon at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.
Mallorie, who has been involved with horse riding for two years, is part of a group of 50 riders ages 5to 21 who are taking part in "The World of Horses" camp this week.
"I just like being out here with my friends and being able to ride my horse," she said. "It's fun."
The camp, which runs through Friday, is being sponsored by the Del Norte County Fair and the Lake Earl Grange. The event is in its third year and has 15 volunteers making sure the camp is a success. The Humboldt Area Foundation also donated funds to help make the event a reality.
The participants are learning a number of vital skills, from how to properly maintain and handle the animal, to showmanship, trail riding and equestrian events like Gymkhana, which includes skills like barrel racing.
The goal is to help these young riders develop and enhance their horseback riding skills.
McKinsey Pickerill-Trinitapoli, 13, of Crescent City, has been riding since she was little and said being on the saddle is something she loves to do, spending at least seven hours a day in the summer working on her riding skills.
"It's my life," she said. "It's what I love to do the most."
Pickerill-Trinitapoli added it teaches children responsibility, which she has learned taking care of her horse Taz.
"The horse depends on you," she said.
Helen Ferguson is one of the main organizers of the camp and said it's important to try to build up horse-related activities in the county.
This includes the local Lake Earl Grange Equestrian team, which competes in Gymkhana events and having more kids take part in events at the county fair.
Recently, a new outdoor arena at the fairgrounds was built, which will soon have lights installed. Last year, an indoor arena was added at the fairgrounds.
Ferguson said a lot of local groups and people have worked hard to "build up" the different horse related activities in town and to give people the facilities to house their horses and take part in equestrian events.
Ferguson said it's a thrill to watch children enjoy learning the skills to be good on horseback.
"It provides such a great use of leisure time," she said. "It's a great activity for kids to get involved in."
Some parents of the children have taken horseback riding lessons because their children have enjoyed it so much.
"It's something those from 5 to 90 can enjoy," Ferguson said.
Jordan Sturdevant, 12, of Crescent City, said he especially enjoys doing Gymkhana events .
"It's fun to do obstacles and you get to go fast and ride with your friends," he said.
For more information on the local Lake Earl Grange equestrian team and horseback riding lessons for both young and old alike, and other questions related to horseback riding in the area, call Ferguson at 464-4008.