June 30, 1999 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Nearly 400 4-H youth gathered at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. June 15 and then at the University of Kentucky June 16 to participate in a variety of horse contests.

Junior and senior 4-H members were busy judging 10 horse classes, including four halter and six performance classes. Members also were involved in other events such as hippology, horse crafts, equipment, photography, public speaking, horse demonstrations, and a horse quiz bowl.

"Judging teaches the kids to reason and make decisions on their own," Cara Newton, an agricultural economics graduate student and 4-H horse program assistant for the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, said. "The competition this year went extremely well; participation was up and so was the skill level of the kids."

Teams come from nearly every county in the Commonwealth. Most competitions are scored on a team and individual basis.

"In many cases, the kids have to work as a team," Ashley Griffin, equine extension associate for the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, said. "They get to work with other youth who are interested in horses and learn more in the process."

Griffin emphasized that students must obtain some level of knowledge about horses before competing at the state level. All the contests require students to know something about horse breeds, anatomy and conformation, origin and history, riding, markings, age, care, use, feeds, equipment, and related areas.

"The kids learn about a topic; it might be hippology, it might be judging," Griffin said. "They are not only learning skills for that event, they're learning life skills for their future."

The winners of the state contests are eligible to go to the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships in Montgomery, Ala. in August, the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October in Columbus, Ohio, and the Eastern National 4-H Horse Round-Up at the North American International Livestock Exposition in November.


Writer: Aimee D. Heald (606) 257-9764 aheald@ca.uky.edu Source: Ashley Griffin (606) 257-7501 agriffin@ca.uky.edu