Niles girl, 8, cleans up at Cass County Fair
By By Joanna Arnett / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- It's quite a feat in itself to win two Grand Champion titles for horseback riding at the Cass County Fair.
It's quite another, if you're only 8 years old and you beat 17-, 18-, and 19-year olds for the prize.
Jennifer Richner, daughter of Lucy Richner and Jeffery Richner and granddaughter of Barbie and Mike Davis, owners of Diamond D Ranch just outside of Niles, competed in the Cass County Fair this past week on her 15-year-old Egyptian Arabian/Quarter Horse mare, Wind Walker.
She's a student at Ballard Elementary School in Niles.
You wouldn't know it, but this was her first time to ever compete at a fair.
By age two, she was riding real, full-grown horses. By herself.
She's had four main horses in her life: Zeke, Desi, Natasha, and now Wind Walker.
Before competing in the Cass County Fair, she has also ridden with the Buchanan Westerners and the Jones Rough Riders horse clubs, in which she has won many awards as well. She has been showing since she was five years old and has made some good friends.
As for showing, she was in the Pee Wee club, which "was really kind of boring," she added. "All we did was lead the line and walk-trot."
All this early schooling seems to have paid off big time. Not only did Jennifer snag the Grand Champion prize for both Michigan Kegs and Poles, she received straight A's for all of her riding.
She competed in the 12 and Under age group, but "The Grand Champion is open to all age groups," she said, meaning she beat out people more than twice her age and with far more experience.
She won numerous awards at the fair: Fourth place in Trail Riding, Third place in English Riding, Third place in Western Horsemanship and Fifth place in Western Pleasure, Fifth place in English/Western, Fourth place in Reining, First place and Grand Champion in Michigan Kegs, First place and Grand Champion in Poles, First place in Cloverleaf (barrels), and Second place in Speed and Action.
So how did Jennifer feel when she found out that she, an 8 year old, had beaten people twice her age for the Grand Championships?
And you probably wouldn't know it from spending time with her. She doesn't mention her incredible achievements unless asked about them.