By Brent Gray
To most people, showing horses seems a lot like work because of all the feeding, watering, stall cleaning, grooming and training involved – not to mention the countless hours spent at shows. But to Mississippi 4-H’ers involved in the horse program, all that work is a lot of fun.
Each summer, young people ages 8 to 18 converge on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds for the 4-H Horse Championship to reap the rewards of a year’s worth of effort. This year, more than 600 4-H horse program members participated in six educational contests and 105 riding events.
“The horse program is one of our most popular 4-H livestock programs,” said Dean Jousan, Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H livestock specialist. “Over the last 10 years, entries for the riding contests have remained between 1,100 and 1,200. Contestants number between 200 and 250 in the educational competitions.”
4-H members from across Mississippi qualify in their districts to compete in many of the more than 100 riding events and educational contests during the show. Educational competitions include horse judging, horse quiz bowl, horse public speaking, horse individual and horse team demonstrations, and hippology. The contests are designed to encourage participants to research the horse industry and learn techniques for proper horse care, nutrition and training.
Individuals must own a horse to take part in the performance events, but the competitions focused on learning are open to any interested individual.
“The educational contests are great for kids who are interested in horses but might not have the space or financial ability to have a horse of their own,” said Larry Alexander, Extension 4-H youth development specialist. “But the knowledge the kids gain from preparing for the competitions really enhances their overall experience if they do have a horse and compete in the performance events.”
Janna Turner and Casey Moss both qualified to move on to the Regional Show in Monroe, La at the end of the month. Congratulations to all the kids that participated in the 4-H Horse shows this season and thanks to all the parents for their participation and help.
The State Shooting sports competition will be held in Pearl at the Police Academy Shooting Range on July 12-13. We had nine kids qualify from the District meet. Congratu-lations to all the kids on a great shooting sports season.