Friday, August 7, 2009

Whichita's Mini-Horse Show a Big Hit

Posted on Fri, Aug. 07, 2009
Wichita's miniature horse show attracts people from Minnesota to Texas

The Wichita Eagle

A miniature horse gets ready to compete at the AMHA Central Regional Championships at the Kansas Coliseum Thursday. Winners advance to compete at the AMHA World Show in Fort Worth.

(Click on title above for original article with photos & video)

Trainers get ready to take their miniature horses into the show ring to compete in the AMHA Central Regional Championships at the kansas Coliseum Thursday. The Show will run through Sunday.

Miniature horse trainer Carlos Andrade works with "Sugar and Spice" in the 28'' and under senior gelding division at the AMHA Central Regional Horse Show at the Kansas Coliseum Thursday. The show will run through Sunday. Admission is free.

Judge Steve Lampson puts the red ribbon on "Blackhawk," after being named the Central Regional reserve grand champion in the senior gelding class at the AMHA Central Region show for miniature horses at the kansas Coliseum Thursday. The show will run through Sunday and admission is free.

Larry and Sue Elniff have been training and showing miniature horses for 29 years because, they say, they love the fellowship and the friendship.

"We are members of our local club, and we just love getting together with our friends, even if we don't involve the horses," Sue Elniff said.

The Elniffs and other trainers are in Wichita this weekend for the American Miniature Horse Association's central regional show, which features more than 200 miniature horses. Winners from this competition qualify for the association's world show in Fort Worth in the fall.

"We have people coming here from all over the Midwest," said Laura Mullen, show manager for the event. "We have some from Minnesota, all the way down to Texas, so it's one of our bigger shows."

The regional show started Thursday and runs through Sunday. Competition each day begins at 8 a.m.

The competition includes a variety of events, with everything from obstacle courses to cart-driving. In order to qualify as a miniature horse, the animal must be no taller than 34 inches at the bottom of its mane.

The Elniffs got started with miniature horses when they bought two of them in 1990.

"After we bought them as pets, we went to a couple shows just to watch," Larry Elniff said. "We thought to ourselves, 'Hey, our horses could do that.' "

They traveled to Wichita from their 40-acre farm in Ozawkie, where they keep their animals and train them.

Known for their calm demeanor, trainability and, of course, their smaller size, miniature horses make good pets, but are also great for competitions like these.

"These animals are great for children," Sue Elniff said. "They are nice animals and are easier to handle because of their size."

The Elniffs' grandson, 14-year-old Garret Rathbun, shows their horses and has already qualified for the world show in Fort Worth.

"We think this competition really helps kids to build character and strong friendships," Larry Elniff said. "To do well at these competitions, you've got to put in a lot of hard work and practice. At the same time, though, they're having fun doing it."

Rathbun echoed his grandfather's words.

"It's great to come to these shows and see all your friends and have a good time," he said. "This is my sixth year competing, and we usually do about six shows a year."

The Elniffs have no plans to stop training and showing miniature horses.

"It's possible that when we both are retired, we will want to do some traveling," Larry Elniff said. "But until then, we will continue to show these horses. We love it, and our grandson is hooked."

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