Weld County 4-H horse show comes together for the Colorado State Fair
September 5, 2018
The crowd goes wild. Well at least the Weld County 4-H members do. They are cheering not for themselves, but for other counties as they compete in the Colorado State Fair 4-H Championship Youth Horse Show. They do it to show support for others and to showcase their excellent sportsmanship.
This year at the Colorado State Fair, Weld County 4-H horse project represented their passion for horses and brought home many awards including three of four saddles that were given away, but the award that they are the proudest of is the Colorado State Fair Image Award.
The image award is voted on by horse show personnel and is given to the county that is best represented by its members. Taken into consideration by the voting staff are, how well sportsmanship is displayed, how polite and kind the members are to personnel and other 4-H members, and if the members were always on time and ready to go. Also taken into consideration are if stalls are kept clean, if they have banners identifying their county, and how they support other counties. One of the members explained that the horse show personnel had people report to them on which county was the most polite and friendly.
"It's nice to win personal awards but so much more fun to win as a county," Kassi Shoemaker, a Weld County 4-H member said. "In your first years of 4-H you're not always going to win the saddle or buckle. It gives the newer members an opportunity to win an important award. It gives the whole county the opportunity to be awarded for our hard work."
"It's really special," said Emelia Dennison, who is 15 years old and a Weld County 4-H participant.
"Even the youngest kids get to feel like they are involved," Coy Shoemaker said of the award.
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The Colorado State Fair 4-H State Championship Youth Horse Show is divided into four disciplines:
■ Ranch Horse: Horsemanship, Trail, Steer Daubing, Cattle Sorting, Individual Cattle Work, Ranch Roping
■ Gymkhana: (timed/speed events) Barrels, Poles, Goat Tying, Flag Race, Key Hole
■ English: English Pleasure, English Equitation, English Riding, English Show Hack, Schooling over Obstacles, Hunter Hack, English Equitation over Jumps
■ Western: Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, Western Riding, Reining, Trail
In the Weld County 4-H Horse Program any member that is at a level 2 can go with the team and compete at the state fair. In other counties, they must win their division to be allowed to compete at the state fair horse show.
"It's a really good experience," Emelia Dennison said. "They may never know if they don't get the chance to go." She said that there are a lot more classes at the state fair and that everyone is very helpful. She also said that all of her team members learn a lot and got to meet other contestants from different counties.
The Weld County team members who took home three of four saddles that were awarded this year were Colin Oschner, who won the Level 2 Ranch Horse Saddle, Kassi Shoemaker won the level 3-4 Saddle and Lauren Weaber won the All-Around Saddle. Adin Malovich won the Reserve All-Around 3-4 Ranch Horse.
Kassi Shoemaker and her brother, Coy, have been participants in the Weld county 4-H horse project since they were 8 years old. Kassi, at 17 years old, is the oldest member on the team, with only one more year left to compete (members can participate from ages 8-18).
"Kassi is really good about keeping us organized and helping the newer kids," Dennison said.
"Passing down knowledge gives it more of a purpose than just winning classes." Shoemaker said about being the oldest member.
In the 4-H horse show participants can choose their classes. Kassi Shoemaker competes in English, Western, and Ranch Horse and she uses one horse for all three disciplines. Her horse, Shoe Fly Frost is a handsome roan gelding her dad started that she raised and trained. She has won two saddles with Shoe Fly Frost in the 4-H program.
"He's pretty special." Shoemaker said. The fact that this horse can compete in three different disciplines is a testament to the versatility of the American Quarter Horse Association breed. It also speaks volumes of the time, passion and commitment the kids in 4-H put into the program. To train a horse for so many different competitions takes hours of hard work and dedication.
"These kids work so hard," said Dawn Shoemaker, Coy and Kassi's mom. "The difference with the horse program compared to other livestock shows is that there are many different classes as opposed to just one."
Kassi, Coy and Dennison all said that it wasn't just about winning titles, ribbons or saddles. The experience, the friendships made, and the lessons that last a life time are what they will remember and cherish the most.
"We come together as a county to make one," Coy said.❖
—Hall is a freelance writer from Platteville, Colo., when she's not writing she is riding her horse in the mountains. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.