HARRODSBURG — Tré Lee had just ridden out of the center ring with his blue ribbon, and his wife was trying to get in.
Lee got off his horse and helped wife Emily and a few handlers get the horse she was showing out of the trailer and hitched to a buggy, and they had no time to lose.
Minutes later, Emily Lee earned the family’s second consecutive win, making it a blue ribbon kind of night for the family at the Mercer County Fair & Horse Show.
“We’re thrilled,” Tré Lee said.
The Lees scored back-to-back wins at the Mercer County Fairgrounds with the kind of horses they love to work with. Their Prospect Lane farm in Versailles is a relatively young operation, and they have come to enjoy working with young or inexperienced horses to get them ready for the show ring.
We Must Be Nuts, the horse Emily Lee drove to a victory in the 2-year-old fine harness class, was making his first appearance in the show ring. Tré Lee’s mount in the open three-gaited park class, At Midnight, is a 5-year-old gelding that was being shown for only the second time.
“My interest is in getting young colts going for people, getting them ready to show and to sell,” Tré Lee said. “There’s nothing like the feeling of going out in the field and getting one and doing it all yourself.”
The Lees had a second-, third- and fourth-place finish in the first two days of the Mercer show before breaking through Thursday.
“This is one of my favorite shows. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s very relaxed here, there’s always a good crowd,” Tré Lee said.
The crowd was scurrying for cover as Emily Lee made the rounds with We Must Be Nuts. A thunderstorm that would soon force the second of two weather delays had opened up, and that only added to the degree of difficulty for Emily Lee and her first-timer.
“That actually was my first time showing a harness horse as well,” she said. “I drive the horses all the time at home, but I’ve never shown one in a class. I just was concentrating on keeping him on his feet, and I could hear the crowd cheering for me, so I knew we were doing good.”
There was supposed to be a class in between the classes in which the Lees were showing, but no horses were entered in that class, so Emily Lee was up sooner than expected, and a number of people were scrambling to help her get her horse ready.
“He got hooked and he was gone,” Emily Lee said. “It was a blur because we didn’t get to warm up.”
She said the plan was to show We Must Be Nuts two weeks ago in Lexington, but a storm changed those plans.
But the horse is expected to show in the 2-year-old fine harness futurity next month at the World’s Championship Horse Show, so he needed some experience in the ring.
“Tonight we said, ‘We’re just going to have to go for it. He’s going to Louisville next month, so we wanted to get one class in,” Emily Lee said after her win.
We Must Be Nuts won the breeders’ open and amateur weanling championships at Louisville in 2010 before he was bought by JoEllen Fisher Blount of Lexington and put in training with the Lees, who couldn’t be happier with how he has progressed.
“He did like he was supposed to do,” Tre Lee said.
Tré Lee said it was also a good second show for At Midnight, which is owned by Susan Hanna of Duluth, Ga.
He said he figures to have five more entries in the show, including one during Saturday’s championship program.
The Lees established their farm in 2005, less than three years after they were married and two years after he won his first world championship with Marching Orders in the 2-year-old three-gaited class while working for John T. Jones at Rosemont Manor Farm in Union.
Tré Lee got started under his father, Clem Lee, and met his future wife when her parents put a half-saddlebred horse in training with the Lees in Virginia.
They have 30 horses in training at Prospect Lane, and Emily Lee said she shares her husband’s love of training younger horses and watching them succeed in the ring for the first time.
“It’s wonderful, and he’s so good at it,” she said.