The Tippecanoe County 4-H Drill Team performs a synchronized routine at the fair. Drill team members spent more than 80 hours practicing, from April through July.
The Tippecanoe County 4-H Drill Team performs a synchronized routine at the fair. Drill team members spent more than 80 hours practicing, from April through July.
LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Sam Evens rides on her horse, Sonee, her worry and stress melts away. It’s just her and her horse, and nothing can stop her.

Evens, a junior and eight-year 4-H member from Lafayette, took home first-place honors in her halter class and the title of reserve champion western halter. She competed at the Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair and is headed to the Indiana State Fair for more contests.

“This week is really awesome,” she said. “I get to see all my friends. It’s like Christmas. It only happens once a year, and you get to see everyone that you want to see. You get to be with your animals. It’s a great time.”

Evens always dreamed of having a horse of her own, but she thought she would have to wait until after college.

Her dream became a reality last summer when she took home the 4-H horse award at the state fair.

After an essay, interviews and lots of hard work, she was chosen as the winner by the Indiana Quarter Horse Association. Her prize was Sonee.

“A total of 10 finalists are selected through an application process,” Evens said. “During that one day your life changes, and I came home with a quarter horse. It was pretty crazy. I did not expect to win.”

After winning the contest, she had 48 hours to find Sonee a home. She boards the horse nearby and practices riding five to seven times a week in peak season.

“It’s really heartwarming, and it makes me feel good,” she said. “All my stress from the day is gone.”

Evens keeps busy training and taking care of her horse, but that’s not the only thing she’s doing this summer.

She has 11 other 4-H projects, including gardening and swine posters. She also serves as secretary for her FFA chapter.

“She’s a special kid,” said Marilyn Kerr, Evens’ friend and trainer. “She really cares about things and is very involved with FFA.”

After high school, Evens wants to attend Purdue University and study agribusiness.