Hubbard County 4-H riders excel at state fair
Four of the Hubbard County 4-H Riders had outstanding state fair performances.
Mari Jo Lohmeier is the Hubbard County 4-H Extension Educator.
“The Hubbard County Horse program is a much smaller program then we have had in the past, and we have many of our youth that are participating are young and learning, but this is a very dedicated group of kids who have worked extremely hard and have helped each other along the way,” she said. “Not only have they put their time into the 4-H horse training practices, but they are working with their horses at home a lot. They also have worked hard acquiring the knowledge that is needed to participate in hippology (similar to a horse quiz bowl). They are living proof that hard work, perseverance and dedication pays off. We are so proud of these kids."
Carter sisters earn 1st place
Maggie Kay and Hazel Mae Carter live on a farm. Both have been around horses since a young age, encouraged and mentored by family friends Charlie and Jill Arvik and both took home first place honors at the state fair.
Maggie Kay is 16. She placed first in the trail class out of 36 competitors with her quarter horse, Fluffy, who is 5 years old.
“Trail is an obstacle course you have to complete,” she said. “For this particular pattern, they had a back through and then you navigated through some poles backwards, which we’d never even tried before. You also went over trot poles, a low bar and a box. That’s a square of poles you go inside and turn 360 degrees without touching the poles. Out of that we worked with a rope gate strung between two poles. I got Fluffy when she was 2 and did most of her training, so that made this a really big accomplishment. We practiced a lot. When I move my body she responds to my cues because she’s really sensitive.”
She also earned sixth place in ranch pleasure. “That’s a class where they judge how well your horse would perform in a ranch setting,” she said. “They ask for the regular gaits like walk, trot and cantor but they also throw in the faster extended gaits you use out on a ranch fixing fence when you want to get there before cows get out.”
In Western Horsemanship she placed 8th. “This category judges how well you handle your horse,” she said. “Fluffy doesn’t like the coliseum at state and she was frightened. They saw how I handled her, even though she was nervous by continuing to perform and that moved my score up.”
“I competed in hippology and horse judging as well and look forward to putting in more effort and doing better next year,” she said.
She said she enjoys riding all year. “It’s not always about competition,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just going on a trail ride and being with her.”
Hazel Mae is 15. She earned first place in goat tying, second place in Pen to Pen, third place in the trail class, 6th place in Hippology Individual Exams, 8th place in Hippology Individual Stations and 9th place in Hippology Intermediate Individual overall.
Hippology is the study of horses, something Hazel Mae hopes to continue in her home school curriculum. “I think if I had more time to put into hippology I could go far,” she said. “I also want to work on showmanship with my horse. Star is four, so this was a good experience going to the state fair and will help her next year.”
She said she hopes to find a job working with horses in the future.
Training 3 horses
Ava Etzler is 17. She finished 2nd out of 36 competitors in Ranch Pleasure with her oldest horse Prince, 7th in Pen to Pen and 8th in the Trail Class and Pen to Pen at the state fair.
“They judge your horse on its ability to move out because on a ranch they do that to move cattle,” she said. “My horse responds to my cues immediately. He’ll be going and I’ll just sit back a little bit and he’ll completely stop. We click so much.”
She is currently working at getting a saddle on her yearling, and is training her 4-year-old horse to ride in upcoming competitions. Her parents bought Prince and she worked as a personal care attendant to earn the money for her two younger horses. She is also teaching her younger sisters to ride in the outdoor arena on their farm.
Her sister, Malina, 16, took 7th place in Pen to Pen with her horse, Nash. This was her first time doing sorting. Eva was her partner in the team event. Cows have to go in numerical order and Ava ran the gate while Malina sorted the cows.
Striving for improvement
Adison Weiss, 15, attends Park Rapids Area High School. She earned 2nd place in Round Pen, Pen to Pen & Barrels, 3rd place in Jumping Figure 8s and 5th place in Pen to Pen with her horse, Mocha. Her parents, Josh and Judi Weiss, own Back Home Farms in rural Park Rapids.
“I’ve been around horses since day one and started riding when I was 3 on a little, black pony named Elmo,” she said. “My dad grew up on a ranch part-time in Nevada, so he’s always ridden horses.
She said the most exciting thing about this year’s state fair was seeing how she improved.
“Last year, I didn’t place in barrels and was 9th in jumping figure 8s,” she said. “The first year is always tough in arenas as every horse reacts differently. This year my horse was familiar with the colosseum from last year and being around a larger crowd with the loud noise that echos. My horse is young and I would like to try to enter her in some of the ranch classes.”
Weiss said she rides Mocha in competitions all year long. “We compete just about every weekend at a different show,” she said. “Last year, I went to North Dakota for high school rodeo, and this spring, I went to NDSU for a barrel run event.”
Weiss said she plans to be a welder. “Horses are my main focus but you have to have a good paying job to support having horses,” she said.
Mia Schaefer qualified to enter her horse in the state fair, but was unable to compete as her horse was injured. Ellie Ritari competed in Schaefer’s slot but did not place.
Learn more about 4-H
4-H is a youth development program of the University of Minnesota Extension. 4-H youth participate in hands-on learning experiences in STEM, citizenship, leadership, animal science, creative arts and more. Through this learn-by-doing process, youth obtain essential life skills such as problem solving, decision making, coping and communicating that help them succeed. Research shows that youth who participate in 4-H have better grades, are more emotionally engaged with school, are more than twice as likely to be civically active and contribute to their communities, and are 47% less likely to have risky or problem behaviors.
To learn more, contact Lohmeier at 218-732-3391 or visit https://z.umn.edu/4HHorseProject .