Four Liberty County youths displayed their equestrian prowess at the 2014 Georgia 4-H State Horse Show June 11-14 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry.
Lexie McCaller, junior 4-H member, placed second overall in the stock-seat division and was named reserve champion; Bobbie McDonald, senior 4-H member, placed fourth overall in the saddle-seat division; Elizabeth Rogers, cloverleaf 4-H member, placed fifth overall in the saddle-seat division; and Mackenzie Gwin, junior 4-H member, placed 17th overall in the hunt-seat division.
Members are grouped in classes based on age: first- through fourth-grade students and fifth- and sixth-grade students with limited experience are classified Cloverleaf; fifth- and sixth-grade students with demonstrated skills; and seventh- and eighth-grade students are classified Junior; and ninth- through 12th-grade students are classified as Senior.
According to Kasey Bozeman, 4-H youth development agent at the Liberty County extension office, a total of 298 horse/rider combinations were exhibited in five divisions: stock seat, hunt seat, saddle seat, ranch horse and contest events.
The horse show encompassed more than just horse-back-riding skills, however. Participants demonstrated overall equine knowledge by completing the Novice Horseman 4-H Horse Project Manual, an 11-page handbook that requires in-depth study of horse anatomy and health care and demonstration of an assortment of horse-riding techniques.
Cloverleaf 4-Hers must complete half of the handbook before entering the state show, and seniors must complete it in its entirety.
Once at the state show, participants are tested on their knowledge. These test scores are factored into their overall placement, along with their top three scores in the individual riding classes.
McCaller, who scored 22 out of 25 on the written test, earned a spot in next month’s regional horse show in Raleigh, North Carolina.
McCaller, 11, said she has been riding since age 7 and feels “pretty good” about qualifying for the regional show.
“I rode almost every day,” she said when asked how she prepared for the event. “Me and my daddy studied almost every night.”
McCaller also praised her trainer, Jeremiah Lucas: “My trainer works hard with me, too.”
The Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships are July 30-Aug. 3 in Raleigh.