Dalton Leik carefully maneuvered Chance in a zigzag pattern around a series of pylons and barrel.
As Chance circled a blue barrel, Dalton gave the command, and the horse picked up speed to a running walk and headed back to the start of the course.
His biggest fans -- his family -- cheered.
Since October, the 12-year-old Hallam boy has been riding the mixed Tennessee Walking/Paso Fino breed of horse and recently took home a first-place ribbon.
"I didn't expect to win anything, and when they said my name, I was shocked," Dalton said.
Rescued: But life for both Dalton and Chance, whose show name is Pardon My Dust, wasn't always a trot in a pasture.
Chance was one of the "Lucky 7" group of
"They had no water, no hay. Nothing to sustain them while they were out there," said Lisa Holder, of York Township.
Holder adopted Chance and the six other horses in February 2011 until they could be placed in new homes.
After reading about the horses and seeing a picture of three of them covered in ice
in a York Dispatch article, Nancy Leik, Dalton's grandmother, adopted Chance last July.
"When I saw that, it just broke my heart," she said. "I never rescued anything in my life."
Skittish: When Chance arrived at Leik's daughter's farm, he could be ridden but was skittish around some humans.
And after being kicked and bullied by the six horses at the old farm, Chance started to become a bully himself with other horses.
But Dalton saw that Chance needed his own space, and the horse was put in a pasture by himself. In what seemed like an instant, Dalton and Chance connected, Leik said.
"We call him Chance because he got a second chance," Leik said.
Needs: Chance wasn't the only one to go through traumatic
When Dalton was 2, his father, Todd Leik, York County's chief assessor, died of cancer. Last December, his grandfather, Wes Evans of Springettsbury Township, died.
Dalton was close to his grandfather, and while nothing can replace a lost grandparent, Leik said Chance fills a need in Dalton's life and Dalton is filling a need in Chance's life.
"He and the horse just bonded," she said.
In a way, Dalton is following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Evans rode horses when he was a teenager. Dalton and his family didn't learn that until Dalton started to ride.
Dalton's natural ability to ride has been attributed to Evans, Leik said.
"We figured that he must have been inherited that from this grandfather. It had to be something that came down through naturally," she said. "He really had a gift there that came out."
Work: Dalton has worked hard to become a better rider. A few times a week he cleans out a Hellam Township barn, and in exchange he gets a free riding lesson.
But riding wasn't always something Dalton enjoyed.
"When I was younger, every time I got on a horse I cried," he said.
Not now, though. With Chance, everything is different.
And Chance is exactly where Holder had hoped he would end up -- with a child who will give him the care he deserves. In return, Chance is bringing out a side of Dalton he didn't know he had.
"This is where he (Chance) needs to be," she said.
-- Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.