BY JENNIFER LEHMAN

Getting run over by a spooked horse at the age of 5 while wearing a bright orange sweat suit is Marie Allison Andrade’s first memory with horses.

The incident left her unfazed, uninjured and laughing, though her mom was pretty scared, she says.

“I don’t know how I managed to escape that one unscathed but I was absolutely fine,” Andrade says.

Horses have been a big part of Andrade’s life for a long time, and the 2011 Boulder County Fair Queen says she plans to keep it that way.

“I will always be with horses in my life, I’m fairly sure,” she says.

Two years ago, Andrade, now 18, won the title of Lady in Waiting for the Boulder County Fair, a position that would train her to be this year’s Boulder County Fair Queen.

To compete for the title of Lady in Waiting, all participants are judged on their public speaking abilities, horse skills and presentation and their level of etiquette demonstrated at a luncheon, Andrade says.

“I think that I was chosen because I bring a lot of polish to the program,” she says. “The potential for that was seen by the judges.”

“I am fairly good with how I handle people and how I handle horses and probably most important, how I handle myself in difficult situations,” she says.

As Boulder County Fair Queen, Andrade was in charge of contacting sponsors, traveling around the state to different events to publicize the fair and along with the 2011 Lady In Waiting, Maddie Harman, a student at Fairview High School, serve as ambassadors for the 2011 Boulder County Fair.

Andrade has worked with four horses as queen, including two miniature horses, Thumper and Ty, a new element she introduced this year that were magnets for crowds and brought great publicity for the fair, Andrade says.

Her mustang, Rico, is a great horse for parades, and her black and white gypsy cob, Howie, puts on a show in hot laps and rodeo events.

“The community atmosphere of the fair is a lot of fun,” Andrade says. “Whether you know people or you don’t, there’s a sense of camaraderie that’s wonderful.

“Even if you’re the old hat at showing livestock or whether you’re brand new to all of it, you’re one of the family.”

A well-versed equestrienne, Andrade has competed extensively in Horse Bowl and hippology competitions (all things horse) through 4-H, winning top individual and team awards, including being named the state individual champion in hippology for 2009, 2010 and winning again in June for 2011.

Andrade also has an interest in the role of agriculture in American society, including the decline of the American farmer and hopes to educate children and adults on the value of farming.

“If the farmer disappears, our lifestyle as we know it will disappear,” she says.

At the moment, Andrade doesn’t foresee a horse-related career in her future, but says she plans to continue owning horses because selling her horses would be like selling half her soul.

“I’ll just learn what I can and use my knowledge to have the healthiest horses I possibly can.”

The Berthoud High School graduate begins at Creighton University in Nebraska this fall where she says her education will come first, but hopes to continue her involvement in music and theater, as well as try and make time for horses.