Hillsboro teen has had a strong season showing her horses

Olivia Kliewer, 16, has had the kind of year a girl who loves horses usually can only dream about.

It?s like a ?National Velvet? or ?My Friend Flicka? movie come true, although Kliewer shows in halter classes, not racing.

The Hillsboro High School junior has two horses: Bobbie Brooks, a purebred Quarter?horse; and Thunder Fox, a Morab, which is a Morgan and Arabian crossbred.

Not only did they garner local honors, but both went on to place highly in a prestigious national show, the American Royal in Kansas City.

Bobbie Brooks was a horse bred to be a champion, coming from a prestigious farm in Arkansas. Thunder Fox was a local horse raised by Belinda Engler north of Marion Reser?voir; the horse turned out to be a natural.

?We bought Thunder Fox for trail riding,? Kliewer said. ?But he?s very intelligent, and seems to love showing. He just does everything naturally.

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?Both horses are judged on how well they are put together, how balanced they are, in some classes,? she added. ?You can even show a wild one in those. But in showmanship, the judges look at how well they present themselves. They want ears forward, and big, attentive eyes.?

Kliewer hasn?t done everything alone. She credits her father, Daryl Kliewer, who farms on the western edge of Hills?boro, for being there to help feed, lead and transport horses. He also helps care for her two other Quarterhorses at the farm.

Her grandmother, Rosalie Kliewer, Hillsboro, and her mother, Esther Kliewer, Wichita, also help her.

?My dad really helps a lot,? Olivia said. ?My grandma helps with cleaning my clothes. My mom always shows up to help get ready to go.?

Kliewer and her two show horses began the season with Bobbie Brooks taking overall grand champion and champion stock-type horse at the Marion County Fair. Thunder Fox was the champion non-stock horse.

Bobbie Brooks also was a grand champion at Salina, at the Tri-County Fair in Herington and at the Abilene Free Fair.

Then, at what is normally the end-of-the road, highly prestigious event for most youngsters, the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, Kliewer again showed Thunder Fox, who took second in halter class and reserve champion non-stock type horse.

At the American Quarter?horse Association show in October in Wichita, Kliewer showed Bobbie to take a first and a second in halter classes and ninth out of 27 in showmanship.

Bobbie is a foundation Quarterhorse, meaning she has pure genetics from the beginning of the breed with little dilution from outside breeding. On a required foundation score of 93, she scored 95, Kliewer said.

To climax everything, in the national competition at the American Royal, Kliewer showed Bobbie to take seventh out of 39 in halter class and sixth of 33 in showmanship, and Thunder Fox to take third out of 15 in halter class.

Kliewer did much more than simply march out with a horse and win a show. Everything takes many hours of preparation, she said.

Kliewer said all of her clothes for the shows have to be dry-cleaned. The horses have to be cleaned with soap and water, and then a coat-shine compound is applied to make their hair coats glow.

The Kliewers also sand the horses? hooves down, and polish them. Olivia takes two hours per horse to ?braid the horse?s mane into separate little strings.?

Each horse also wears a fake tail to fill out the natural tail.

Olivia and Daryl spend hours walking the horses at shows to keep them calmed down.

?Dad helps me muck out the stalls,? Olivia added. ?A lot of the time we sleep in the trailer sleeper, but we also stay in motels, too. It?s fun.

?It?s hard sometimes to juggle school and horses,? she added. ?Some of my teachers believe in what I?m doing, and try to help me, while others don?t think I should be missing school. It?s a mix. I try to get as much work in early to them as I can.?

Kliewer said she?s been riding for 10 years.

?It all started when I was 6 years old and got a scholarship to take horsemanship lessons from Belinda Engler,? she said. ?She taught a lot about balancing, and how to fall off of a horse safely. We couldn?t use a saddle until we learned balance riding bareback first.

?Then I learned more about riding from Lisa Clark at Florence. Jeannine McLain at Newton Arabian Farm also helped me learn a lot, too.?

Kliewer got professional training for Bobbie, but, she said, ?Thunder Fox was easy. He?s really smart. He seems to know he?s being showed. In the ring, he?ll lift his legs really high, arch his neck high, stands with his chest out, and sometimes will snort.?

Kliewer and her horses are in the down-time winter season. She will start training seriously again in February.

As for the future, she said, ?I want to go to a college that has a horse team, maybe Oklahoma State or Kansas State. I want to major either in music or zoology. I really like music education or performing. I also love animals.

?Dad wants to do some horse breeding?I would like that,? she added. ?We used to take our vacations on the East Coast, but now our vacations are the horse shows. It costs too much to do both. This is a family thing we do together.?

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