CLAYTON – The night of the tornados was especially terrifying for the Scott Skaroupka family. Their neighborhood in Clayton was spared, but the farm near on Oakes Road where 13-year-old Kylah’s horse, Conner, boards was in the tornado’s path.
“The owner was at work and couldn’t get home for several hours,” said Rebekah Skaroupka, Kylah’s mother. “It was one or two o’clock before we learned the horses were alive and uninjured.”
The next day, they found trees down but no serious damage to the barn. The horses inside were agitated and restless, except for Conner, who was calmly munching hay.
Kylah Skaroupka has been riding since an aunt gave her a week at a horse camp as a Christmas present when she was six and she asked for lessons.
“I fell off, but I got right back on,” she said.
“I always wanted to live on a farm. And eventually, I want to be a trainer or an equine veterinarian.”
She joined the Los Cahbahyos 4-H Club in Brookville when she was nine or 10 years old. Members don’t need to own their own horses, and for years Skaroupka rode her trainer’s horse.
“But we decided she needed the consistency of her own horse,” her mother said, and in February they purchased Conner, a 15-year-old white Thoroughbred gelding who is 15.2 hands high. (Horses are measured in “hands” at the base of the neck, with a hand being four inches.)
A son of Monarchos, who won the 2001 Kentucky Derby with a time second only to Secretariat’s, Conner lacked his sire’s speed. Although his record included three wins, four places (second place) and one show (third place), the purses he won totaled about $28,000, not enough to justify continued racing or to bring in stud fees. He was sold to become a hunter-jumper and then became a saddle horse.
“We needed a horse, and he needed Kylah,” Rebekah Skaroupka said. “His last owner went to college, so he was out to pasture and needed a human.”
At first, Kylah and Conner disagreed on who was boss, but at the Montgomery County Fair, the pair placed second in English showmanship and third in grooming and showmanship in the Western class. Conner has been trained in English-style riding, but Kylah is training him for Western style as she likes it better.
This marked the first year in more than 60 years 4-H horses had been at the Montgomery County Fair.
“There were no facilities before,” Mrs. Skaroupka explained. The horse barns at the old fairgrounds on Main Street were rented for racehorses, and there was no arena for showing horses.
Conner was not disappointed to have the fair over with, though.
Kylah said, “He is especially close to one of the other horses boarded with him, and when I brought him back from the fair, he wouldn’t go into his stall until he went over to that horse.”