Two hundred paint horses from across the West and Canada have come together at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.
Their human owners have come as well.
All are in town for the Southwest Washington Paint Horse Show, an event that showcases the unique qualities of the horses and gives owners an opportunity to compete for prizes.
The show runs 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
On Thursday, exhibitors groomed their horses, buffed saddles, and visited with fellow horse lovers in the stable area as they prepared for the show.
One group of friends, Shelley Tuma from Bend, Jackie Garton from Pendelton, and Kristi Duncan from Mount Shasta, California, worked on two of their horses, Bentley and Gidget.
Bentley, whose registered name is “The Perfect Machine,” is quiet, slender and pretty, and appeared happy to be pampered before the show. Gidget, whose registered name is “Frosted Iron,” is mostly snow white, with medium brown flecks.
Garton said she got her first paint horse when she was 18, and all three women have been showing the horses for years. They all agree showing their horses is a combination of work and vacation, but vacation aside, Garton said she always gets nervous before competing.
Visitors will get a close-up look at the horses, which, through the American Paint Horse Association, comprise the second-largest certified breed in the United States. It’s one that combines both the characteristics of a Western stock horse with a white and dark spotting pattern of a pinto, developed from a base of spotted horses with quarterhorse and thoroughbred bloodlines.
Events will include the Western and English all-around competition, trail obstacles, pattern class, and the halter competition, which features what association member Brandon Severin calls “the beefy ones,” meaning the more stout, working paints, which are a little different from the typically slender, more graceful paints.
Admission and parking are free.