MONMOUTH — Some of the biggest applause at the Monmouth Fair pulling arena Sunday during the log twitch, a tricky test in which horse handlers guide their muscled animals dragging a log through a course of traffic cones barely wider than the horses themselves, went to its smallest participants, both human and beast.

Though it’s hard to think of a mini-horse named “Kisses” as a beast of burden.

Logan Robinson, 11, of Litchfield, guided the diminutive, and occasionally uncooperative, Kisses through the course expertly Sunday in the mini-horse’s first fair and only second time pulling anything.

It may have been the approximately 11-year-old Kisses’ first pulling event, but it was far from a first for the blond-haired Logan, who has been working with horses — sometimes full-size, not just mini-horses — for about four years.

“He looked like he was born with reins in his hands,” his mom, Melinda Robinson, said of Logan’s first experiences with horses. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”

Logan said it takes a combination of pulling on the reins and verbal commands of “gee” for right, “haw” for left, and “whoa” for stop to maneuver horses through the course without the horse or the long logs they pull behind them striking the cones and knocking tennis balls placed on top of the cones to the ground. He positioned himself behind the horse either straddling the log or on either side, depending on which direction horse and log were moving. He said he’s been hit by the log before, but never injured by it.

Following Logan and Kisses was Lacey Cram, 10, of Lisbon, driving another of Logan’s mini-horses, the more experienced, 20-year-old Tilly. It was the first pull for the cowboy-boot-wearing Lacey, who Logan gave advice to between runs.

“Everything,” Lacey responded when asked what she liked about log twitching with the gentle, brown-and-white Tilly.

Later, after the log twitch, the two youngsters filled a large bucket of water to bring back to the horses at their trailer, each of them hefting one side of the bucket, carrying it together between them.

Melinda Robinson said they have two mini-horses, two riding horses and two steers. She said caring for the horses helps teach Logan responsibility. He cares for them daily doing chores before and after school. She said older teamsters have been very helpful to youngsters like her son.

Events in the pulling arena were popular Sunday at the Cochnewagan Agricultural Association’s 105th annual Monmouth Fair, which bills itself as “A little fair with a lotta pull!”

Most of the competitions involved adults and full-sized horses, many of them massive draft horses.

Cathy Simmons, of Sidney, and her horse Princess expertly backed into the hitching area, attached the log by a chain to a leather harness, and moved quickly through the cones spread over the course without knocking off any of the tennis balls. Some of the corners were so tight within the confines of the ring the horses were sometimes inches apart and face to face with spectators on the other side of the wire fence. Swinging wide to set up to make a turn through a pair of cones, Princess’ nose knocked an empty Pepsi can someone had left on top of the fence onto the ground. Horse and teamster continued on undisturbed.

Simmons said she had a great teacher in how to be a teamster, her dad, Pete Stratton, who also competed Sunday and smoothly moved through the course with the massive steed Buster, calming the horse by repeating “easy, easy” as they went.

She said Stratton works the horses in the woods, logging with them. She said they do a lot of competitions.

Simmons’ daughters, Caitlyn, 10, on her pony Jasmine, and Elisabeth, 14, on her horse Sugar, competed in the 4-H horse show Sunday, trotting around a show ring following instructions from the judge.

Sunday was the fair’s last day.

Paul Fox, superintendent of grounds for the fair who had four generations of family members on the fairgrounds Sunday, said he didn’t have attendance figures for the fair but said there was “quite a mob here last night” on the midway and watching the Saturday night entertainment, including the band Sharon Hood and Dixon Road.

Crowds turned out despite three separate, if brief, periods of rain over the fair’s first three days.

“People just got under some cover, in the exhibition hall, all three times it rained and then got right back to it,” Fox said. “Everything went well. We’ve had no problems and no one got hurt, though they might have gotten a bit wet.”

Fox has been involved with the fair since 1966. He said he went to 14 fairs last year, where he enjoys meeting and talking to people and looking for ideas that might also work at the Monmouth Fair.

Thursday the fair had a birth, a sweet-eyed brown bull calf later named Dewey in an impromptu baby-naming contest. Fair officials said on the fair’s Facebook page, it was the first ever livestock birth to occur during the fair.

Dewey was popular with many attendees coming over to his stall, as his mother watched over him and occasionally stooped down to give him a lick.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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