BY SHERI TRUSTY
Luke Cole is all about being a girl dad, but as a father to Payton Legron, he had to change his perception of what that means. When Legron was just a toddler, Cole set out to buy his little girl a pair of princess shoes.
Legron didn’t want them. She wanted cowboy boots.
“Since she was born, she wanted cowboy boots. She was just born a cowboy,” Cole said.
Fifteen-year-old Legron of Lindsey started riding lessons when she was three. Her journey to becoming an award-winning equestrian was aided by the Ottawa County Horse Foundation (OCHF).
The equestrian organization connects and supports horse enthusiasts through educational opportunities and horse shows. The group collaborates with the Ottawa County 4-H Horse Program, the Ottawa County Jr. Horse Advisory, the Ottawa County Sr. Fair Board, and the Harness & Draft Horse Committee.
The Ottawa County Fairgrounds serves as the hub of the group.
OCHF’s next show, the Spring Fuzzy Show, will be held April 22-23. For more information, visit www.ochf.net.
“The goal is to promote horses in Ottawa County,” said OCHF Vice President William Powell. “We work with the fair board and local 4-H offices. We hold shows throughout the summer at the county fairgrounds.”
Legron won the High Point Award for speed during the 2022 Points on the Portage competition. For the competition, she rode Spice, a Quarter Horse/Haflinger mix. Legron said OCHF impacted her success as a rider.
“I’ve made a lot of friends and met people who helped me get to where I am now,” Legron said. “For a while, when my parents couldn’t take me to a meet because of work, they would haul me to shows, and they taught me how to ride.”
Macie Morris, 18, of Oak Harbor won top honors in performance at the Points on the Portage competition. Morris competes with two Quarter Horses, Karen and Spartan. She shows Karen in Ranch Class and Spartan in Western and English Classes.
“I used to show Karen in Western and English, but I noticed she was getting very agitated in those classes. I decided to do something less demanding and put her in Ranch Class. She enjoyed being less micromanaged, but Spartan is willing to do anything,” Morris said.
Morris joined OCHF when she was 10 years old, and the experience gave her the courage to trust her own skills. When she acquired Spartan, he knew nothing about showing, yet Morris trained him to be an award-winning performer. Her success started by setting goals.
“I put a lot of goals out for myself. It makes me work harder and shows people you don’t need a top-earning trainer to reach your goals. I make mistakes, and I learn from them,” she said. “This is my life, pretty much. This is the top thing I work for every day.”
Arleigh Dackermann, 17, of Port Clinton had to step away from the competition when her horse was diagnosed with navicular syndrome, a degenerative disease.
“She basically didn’t move right any more. We gave her injections and special shoes and took six months off, but she wasn’t into it anymore,” Dackermann said. “I made the decision to retire her early.”
While her horse retired, Dackermann kept working. She attended every OCHF show to help keep the event running smoothly for the other competitors.
“It’s a small community, so they need all the help they can get. I want to support them every way I can,” she said.
Dackermann’s commitment to OCHF and her fellow equestrians won her the Tina Busdiecker Winning Spirit Award. She was nominated for the award by her peers.
Powell said Dackermann’s challenges “didn’t stop her from having a positive attitude and cheering on other exhibitors.”
“She was always willing to lend a hand in the arena, at the entry booth, or working the gates,” Powell said. “Overall, her peers say she is a joy to have around.”