County 4-H Equine Team takes top honors at national contests

By LENNY C. LEPOLA News Assistant Managing Editor

November 26, 2013

Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to state and national competitions, just ask members of the Delaware County Senior 4-H Equine Team and they will tell you in no uncertain terms that practice pays off – and handsomely.

Recently, members of the Delaware County Senior 4-H Equine Team competed in four national level contests, after winning all three state equine contests this past spring and summer – Horse Bowl, Hippology and Horse Judging.

The Hippology and Horse Judging teams representing Ohio were composed of Jacob Wenner (Set 4 Success 4-H Club), Aimee Dill (Cowboy Convoy 4-H Club), and Clara Selle and Abby Marshall (both members of Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club). Debbie Manring coached the Horse Judging Team, and Heather Manring coached the Hippology Team.

The Horse Judging Team competed at the Arabian Nationals Horse Judging Contest held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in October, where each contestant was asked to judge 10 classes of purebred Arabian or half-Arabian horses, including six performance classes and four conformation classes.

The performance classes included reining, sidesaddle, western pleasure, western horsemanship, hunter pleasure and English country pleasure. The team members then gave oral reasons on four of these classes: hunter pleasure, sidesaddle and two conformation classes.

“Oral reasons require the contestant to verbally present their reasons for why they placed these classes to a judge as they did using a specific format,” Heather Manring said. “In this format, four horses in the class must be compared to each other, but also to the standard for the specific type of riding event.”

Manring said at this contest, the top 10 contestants are given awards in the performance and conformation judging divisions, as well as overall and in oral reasons. The top teams receive recognition in these four divisions as well.

At this year’s contest, the Delaware County team placed first in Performance Judging, with Abby Marshall receiving top individual and Clara Selle placing seventh. The team placed fourth in Oral Reasons, with Abby Marshall receiving fifth place. Overall, the team placed fifth with Abby Marshall taking fifth place overall as an individual.

“The team did not receive any awards in the Halter Judging division, so this will be a focus of future horse judging practices to improve for the future,” Manring said. “The team members had a great time as they experienced a new contest and did some sightseeing in St. Louis and Eureka Springs, Arkansas.”

Manring said the Horse Judging Team members hope to receive top honors at the state contest next year to have the opportunity to return to the Arabian Nationals Horse Judging Contest.

The same team members also competed in the 2013 All American Quarter Horse Congress Hippology Contest, which is an all-around test of horse knowledge ranging from judging to anatomy and horse management.

“This year there were 22 Hippology teams at Congress,” Manring said. “The Delaware County team did an amazing job, and was the overall champions of the Hippology contest. The team placed third for Judging, second in Team Problems and first in Stations as well as on a written exam.”

Manring said Aimee Dill placed third as an individual in Judging. In the Stations Division, Clara Selle placed first, with her three team members not far behind in sixth (Jacob Wenner), seventh (Aimee Dill) and ninth (Abby Marshall) places.

For the written exam, Jacob Wenner was second with Abby Marshall placing sixth and Clara Selle in seventh place. As overall individuals, Jacob Wenner was Reserve Champion. The other team members were not far behind Jacob with Clara Selle in third place, Aimee Dill in seventh and Abby Marshall in ninth.

“At this level of competition, it’s amazing that all four members of one team were in the top 10,” said Hippology Coach Heather Manring. “This team worked very hard for this contest and their hard work paid off.”

As if that’s not enough accolades for one season, the team of Wenner, Dill, Selle and Marshall also competed in Horse Bowl contests at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup.

The Horse Bowl Team, coached by Heather Manring, also included Sunbury Halter & Saddle 4-H Club member Caleb Marshall as an alternate.

“The team studied very hard for these contests and ended up ninth out of 21 teams at the Quarter Horse Congress Contest held in mid-October,” Manring said. “This didn’t stop them from coming back to be the Champion Horse Bowl Team at the 2013 All American 4-H Horse Roundup, where Jacob Wenner was also the overall Individual High Point Champion.”

Also at the All American 4-H Horse Roundup Horse Bowl Contest Aimee Dill took fourth place, with Abby Marshall and Clara Selle just outside the top ten individuals at 11th and 15th places respectively.

“The success of this team and each of the individuals on this team can be attributed to their hard work, dedication and the long hours they have slaved over the material and subjects they needed to master,” Manring said. “While they placed amazingly well as individuals, it was their ability to trust each other that brought them together as a team and to success at the end of these contests.”

Manring said that during the three weeks between the two Horse Bowl contests, the team members gained not just equestrian knowledge, but also experienced personal growth as their trust in each other solidified, their confidence increased, and they mastered effective communication skills.

“Throughout the last six months of preparation for these contests, the team has focused on individual growth and growth as a team,” Manring said. “At some of the meetings, each member would bring a quote about strength, team work, dedication or success. One saying we came across and modified really identifies the team and who they really are - the team embraced that as individuals they are strong but as a team they are stronger.

“The individual members of this team will go far in life with the skills, experience and confidence they have gathered over this year and previous years,” Manring added. “Each one of these team members have their strengths, and like any person they also have their weaknesses, but they have embraced all of these – strengths and weaknesses alike - and have not let anything stop them. These 4-Hers continue to live by the 4-H motto: To make the best better.”

Coaches Debbie and Heather Manring and members of the Delaware County 4-H Equine Team said they are very thankful for the monetary support from the state 4-H committee that partially covered expenses for attending the 2013 competitions. “These contests are a financial investment for these kids, but one that is well worth it,” Heather Manring said. “We are also very appreciative of all the volunteers and staff that make these events possible and keep them running smoothly.”