Some of the smallest animals at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo competed for the biggest prizes Thursday in the Miniature Horse Show.
Competitors came from near and far to show off the skills and athleticism of miniature horses -- some standing at only 25 inches tall.
Among the many winners of the day was Domina, a black pinto filly, from the Little America Ranch in Buda, south of Austin.
"She is a big diva. She came out with three blue ribbons and she came out of the ring you could see it in her eyes," handler 18-year-old Emily Baker said. "She knew. Horses always know. Horses can tell when they do well because you come out of the ring happy and when she came out she was prancing."
By midday Thursday, Domina earned Baker two first place ribbons and a second. Baker still had more contests left on her schedule for Thursday and Friday.
"It’s hard because my name is Emily and there are four Emilys that show," Baker said. "They say 'Emily' and there’s the longest pause in the world [before they say the last name], but hearing your name is really insane, especially here where there are a lot of shows. It makes my heart skip a beat."
Baker is the president of the American Miniature Horse Youth Association where she meets other young competitors from across the country and around the world. She's been working with miniature horses since she was 10 years old.
The latest news from around North Texas.
"I work really hard; no job is too gross for me," Baker said. "I can muck out a stall and get rid of rats -- no problem. [I've learned] you are a lot more loyal to your friends and you’re more respectful of people. Anyone here would give you the shirt off their back for you to get in the ring."
She learned the ins and outs of training a miniature horse from Tony Greaves, who owns and operates the Little America Ranch. He's been bringing his minis to the Stock Show for 35 years and has been raising them for over 56 years.
Every Thursday since Greaves' daughter was in high school 14 years ago, he has led "Thursday Kids," in which he teaches young people to raise and compete the miniature horses.
He teaches the kids and teens how to exercise them and train the miniature horses year-round to get ready for competitions like these. He owns 165 miniature horses.
Many of the "Thursday Kids," ranging from ages 5 to 17, were in Fort Worth Thursday and ended up taking home ribbons of their own by midday, including Baker.
Greaves said that miniature horses are like a cross between a dog and a full-size horse. They're more cost and space efficient, too. You can feed six miniatures for what you feed one big horse, he added.
"I used to say there are two things that I hated about having a horse ranch: one was unloading hay and the other was loading horses," Greaves said with a laugh. "Well I learned that I can get someone to deliver my hay and now I’ve got horses that I can pick up and put in the trailer."