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Heart of horsemanship found in Fredenburg family

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Caroline Fredenburg waits her turn at the Henry County Saddle Club during the Indy Circuit Show earlier this week. She and her younger brother are also competing in the Indiana Quarter Horse AQHA event that runs through Sunday.
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Brothers Gehrig and Elden Fredenburg (left to right) during the Indy Circuit Show earlier this week at the Henry County Saddle Club grounds. Elden has his horse, “Sweet Pea,” competing in events all this week at the grounds.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

STRAUGHN — Rural Straughn residents Tyler and Natalie Fredenburg have seen their children do exactly that while riding and guiding their horses all week as the biggest events of the Henry County Saddle Club season unfold at Memorial Park.

For the Fredenburgs, it’s not a sport or an activity. It’s a lifestyle. 

“They were up this morning to practice their trail pattern at 4 a.m. and they’re still showing after 8 p.m.,” Natalie Fredenburg said recently in an interview with The Courier-Times. “So they’re learning to be hard workers.”

The events are big ones for the Henry County Saddle Club, which just concluded hosting both Indy Circuit for the 30th year and now has the Indiana Quarter Horse AQHA State Show running through Sunday, June 9.

“This is a huge deal,” Natalie Fredenburg said. “The Henry County Saddle Club works really hard. This is their biggest event of the year. The hotels will sell out. The restaurants are busy, bringing in large groups. It’s really profitable for Henry County. I don’t think most people realize what’s happening on the hill when it’s so busy with all these trailers.”

But for the Fredenburgs, it’s like another day at the office, albeit a rare equestrian event at home. The family travels to horse events all over the country.

“The kids have been very successful,” dad Tyler Fredenburg said. “They have been winners on the national level.”

Elden Fredenberg, who will be a fifth-grade student at Tri Elementary School this fall, works with a horse he calls “Sweet Pea.” He’s been involved with horses since age four.

“I like that there’s challenges you have go through if you want to succeed,” Elden said.

Elden is no stranger to challenges. He plays three sports in addition to his horsemanship duties. His older brother, 12-year-old Gehrig, plays four.

Maintaining an active school life and having horses provides few idle moments for the family.

“It takes us two hours and 30 minutes each day to feed them, water them, ride them and clean out their stalls,” Elden said.

As Elden and Gehrig talked with the Courier, on the other side of the Henry County Saddle Club grounds was sister, Caroline Fredenburg, who will be a sophomore at Tri High School this fall. She was carefully studying others as they competed while waiting her turn with “Suddenly Sophisticated.”

In talking with her, it was easy to tell where Caroline’s heart was – right there with her horse.

“They’re different animals,” she said. “They’re very caring but they also really try for you. They’re very athletic.”

The Fredenburgs also have a seven-year-old son, Irwin, who is following his sister’s and brothers’ hoof steps.  

The kids’ dad, Tyler Fredenburg, lived in Middletown and graduated from Shenandoah High School. It was his wife, Natalie, who sparked the equestrian interest in the family.

“I grew up showing horses in 4-H, but nothing at this level of competition,” she said. “We started taking riding lessons at Carson Training Center in New Castle. Then we went with another trainer who competes nationally and now we travel on the road with him.”

Natalie says South Henry School Corp. officials have “worked really well with us” in keeping the youths in a public school while still allowing absences so they can go on the road with their horses.

While her kids have more absences than perhaps the normal student, they are “educational” absences.

“They learn a lot of responsibility and just how to become coachable children,” she said. 

Rebecca Baker, president of the Henry County Saddle Club, said major upgrades are needed to keep the facility viable for future shows – and horse-driven families like the Fredenburgs.

“All of the electric lines and boxes here are 20 years old,” Baker said. “This facility was built in the 1960s. We’re going to do a fundraiser and we did increase our prices this year. We’re hoping after this year we can make some improvements.”

Natalie Fredenburg called the Henry County Saddle Club facilities “a jewel for our community.”

“It’s something I wish the County Commissioners would support more and understand the cost to maintain this facility,” she said. “Our 4-Hers show on these grounds, which is much more than most 4-Hers have access to.”