4-H-sponsored Horse and Pony English Show teaches riders responsibility

July 28, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI |
  • Chloe Bellerive, 13, of Keedysville, leads her thoroughbred Atlas from the ring during the Horse and Pony English Show Saturday at the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center near Sharpsburg.
By Alicia Notarianni

Last year, when Megan Mikulsky went to show her horse Glory during the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair, she made a startling discovery.

He was gone.

“He ran away. He went over and made friends with the cows,” she said. “But I caught him.”

Megan, 15, of Smithsburg, said learning to think fast and deal with emergency situations is just one of many ways the 4-H-sponsored Horse and Pony English Show benefits her and other riders. The show is the culmination of a yearlong 4-H project in which young riders assume most, if not all, responsibility for their horses. They train, exercise, feed and groom their animals.

“It’s a great way to relieve stress after school,” Megan said.

This year, she cared for and showed two horses, an Arabian named Nashita and a quarter horse named T-Bone. Nashita is green, or new to showing, Megan said. She talked the young, dapple gray mare through her time in the ring during the conformation class, in which riders lead their horses rather than ride them.

“It’s OK. I know. You are itchy,” she said.

Megan said she gave her horses the day off from training Friday so they would be “nice and refreshed” for the Saturday show at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. Instead, she spent the day washing them and braiding their manes.

“It’s great to be a part of this. You learn a lot about being in the ring and being with other horses,” Megan said. “Judges will tell you what you’ve done and really help you out.”

Marianne Mikulsky, Megan’s mom, said the 4-H project and show has been a good experience for her daughter.

“It teaches responsibility,” she said. “It keeps (Megan) physically fit and gives her something to focus on. She’s met a lot of nice friends at the barn who share her passion for horses.”

Carly Klansek, 14, of Williamsport, said working through the 4-H horse project with her quarter horse Nina has taught her about agriculture.

“I’ve learned a lot about the different things horses can eat, and about what is poison to them,” she said.

Chloe Bellerive, 13, of Keedysville, showed her thoroughbred Atlas. Chloe said of the many classes in the show, she prefers hunter jumper, in which horses jump over fences.

“This is a good opportunity to get around and just show off your horse at the county fair,” she said.

Calista Plante, 12, of Keedysville, encountered an extra challenge at this year’s event. She registered two horses and had planned to show one named Dusty. But that horse was involved in an accident and died last Sunday. Instead, she showed a Tennessee Walker named Jasper. She got off to a shaky start in conformation with a sixth place. But later in the show, she garnered three first places and a second place, with other classes still before her.

“I feel like Dusty is watching over us, giving us firsts,” Calista said.

LeAnn Johnson, a 4-H leader, said kids can participate in the horse project even if they don’t own a horse. Many lease horses or “work off” the payment by caring for horses.

Ashley Lyons, 12, of Smithsburg, worked for the use of a horse last year before she got her own as a gift for Christmas. Ashley and her mother, Cindy Lyons, said showing her quarter horse She Dances for Diamonds was an exciting event.

“It kind of shows where she has been putting all her time and effort all year long,” Cindy Lyons said.

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