Hair, makeup, grace all count in horse showing at Fillmore fair

By John Weiss

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

PRESTON — A half-ton of powerful horse stood quietly as a 14-year-old boy put small pink rubber bands in its mane to make the gelding prettier.

When Travis Freiheit was done Tuesday morning, he started to massage gel into the hair to make Skip to a Light’s mane shine.

Again, the horse didn’t seem to mind.


It’s all part of showing horses in the pleasure class at the 149th Fillmore County Fair that started Tuesday at the fairgrounds in Preston.

"Just supposed to make him look better," said Freiheit, of Wykoff. "It’s one of those things, it’s how it is … He probably doesn’t like it but he’ll deal with it."

The sorrel quarter horse, as a 3-year-old, was high point junior horse for team cutting in the American Quarter Horse Association, he said. He and another horse go into a pen with 30 head of cattle and have to cut out and move three specific head into a smaller pen. His father, Steve Freiheit, rode the horse in that competition and Travis Freiheit saw the horse at its prime. "He was a pretty good horse," he said.

A leg injury cut the horse’s cutting career short, so now he’s a show horse that Freiheit groomed as part of his work with the Bloomfield Cloverleaves 4-H club.

Now, Skip to a Light is judged not at how fast and well he can cut cattle out of a herd and move them, but how slowly and gracefully he can move in a ring. Part of that look is not having a loose, wild mane. Which was why Freiheit was putting small pink rubber bands in the horse’s mane.

As Freiheit made little tufts of hair with the bands, Jacole Drinkall of Ostrander, a veteran of showing horses, stopped by to check on the rubber bands. She said the work makes the mane lay flat; you don’t want movement during the pleasure class. Some horse groomers also clip the hair to make the neck look longer, and some polish the hooves.

Some go so far as to rub baby oil on the nose and around the eyes.

"It’s like putting makeup on a horse," she said.


Fillmore County Fair events

Wednesday: J & S Rodeo and Wild Cow Milking Contest, 7 p.m., grandstand, $10.

Thursday: Tonic Sol-fa, grandstand, 7 p.m., $10

Friday: Draft horse pull, grandstand, 7:30 p.m., $5; Teen Dance, big tent, 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., $3.

Saturday: Demolition derby, 7 p.m., grandstand.

John Weiss covers news in Fillmore, Winona and Houston counties. If you have a news idea, call him at (507) 285-7749.

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.