Contributed photos
Above: Local 4-Her Katelyn Schaefer is advancing to the state competition with her horse Sunny. Schaefer is the daughter of Sally Clemenson and Tresten Schaefer. Below: Schaefer competes in the barrel races at the county fair.

Frazee resident to compete with a hoflinger horse

By Barbie Porter


Katelyn Schaefer and her horse Sunny are heading to state 4-H competitions.

The Frazee resident earned the right to compete at the top level event in all gaming events. While that is quite an accomplishment what makes her achievement even more rare is that her horse is a hoflinger. Schaefer explained, hoflingers are bred for a variety of tasks, most notably for pulling and heavy work.  

“I’m most excited about the fact that I was able to go with a hoflinger,” she said. “They are the least likely to make it for something like this because they were not meant to do anything like this.”

The 17-year-old daughter of Sally Clemenson and Tresten Shaefer entered her third year of competition with the Becker County 4-H this year. The gaming events include barrel racing, pole weaving, jumping, figure-eight and key hole. Schaefer and Sunny took first in pole weaving, jumping and figure eight. They took second in barrel racing and third in the key hole event. 

To earn a state invite, all points collected from the events are tallied and the first three get to go to the state competition. Schaefer said the day of the Becker County 4-H competition, she didn’t expect to have a good day. Sunny wasn’t in the right head space and had been acting up that morning.

“He wasn’t by his buddy,” Schaefer said, noting a friend’s horse and her horse are close knit. “I didn’t think he would be able to focus.”

When game time arrived, Sunny was able to focus on the task at hand and turned in some of the best times at several competitions that day. 

“This is my first, first place (at a competitive event),” she said. “The most challenging for me is the jumping and figure eight.”

She explained the quick turns of the figure eight competition requires the rider and horse to be thinking ahead while completing a task. 

Her favorite event is the pole weave, she said, then added she actually loves all the events.

While Schaefer has attended 4-H state events before and was on a drill team, this will be her first time competing solo. She said her past experience gave her a level of comfort where she is ready for the big event in September.

“We’re going to go and enjoy it for what it is,” she said. “Making it there is enough, place or not, we will have fun.”

Building a bond with Sunny

Sunny came into Schaefer’s life as a gift from her mother. She’d been asking for a horse since she was a little kid, and on her 14th birthday her lifelong dream came true.

“Sunny was 8-years-old when I got her,” Schaefer said. “She was not trained and not easy to ride. She was one of the worse horses I’ve ridden so far. There were multiple times I was bucked off.”

At first, Schaefer wasn’t sure if the two would bond. Instead of selling her horse and looking for another one, she decided to give Sunny a chance and put in a lot of time into training. She took lessons for a year or so before Sunny came into her life, but the training she did with her hoflinger was all on her own accord.

“We bonded in the second year,” Schaefer recalled. “There wasn’t a specific moment. It was throughout the year we got closer. Slowly, I was able to let other people comfortably ride her and we began placing better at local shows.”