4-H regional hippology contest tests kids' horse sense
Kelly Weisner was coordinator of the recent regional hippology contests at Jacob's Church, Lynn Township.
Weisner said 90 participants from nine counties participated in the event involving horses, not hippos, as some may think.
Weisner said many but not all 4-H Horse Club members have their own horses.
Being a member of the club is as close as they can come to having a horse, Weisner said.
Benefits extend beyond horse knowledge.
Youth gain skills in being in a contest, taking a test, timed decision-making and teamwork.
"Several groups use it as a practice for entering the state contest," she said.
State competition takes place in August at Harrisburg.
She said the region had some members go on to national level after a state win.
The written test began at 9 a.m.
At one end of the room were stations with horse equipment or posters depicting something horse centered, such as a photo of teeth.
Volunteers have been instrumental in the entire horse program, including regular meetings and at shows, Weisner said.
Lehigh County has its shows at the Berks County 4-H Center near Leesport. Northampton County also has a 4-H facility.
The county show will be July 19. There is a Regional Horse Bowl for all ages: Novice, Junior and Senior.
Jo Lee Muller, Hippology chairman, said this was the first year Lehigh County was running the program.
She said some kids get really frustrated but everyone who attends learns more and more each year.
She is on the Lehigh County Development Board and said it is amazing how many kids 4-H touches when after school programs and camps are included.
For the county there are 1,000 4-Hers.
In January, there is a Leadership program.
State Days has competitions in horse judging, robotics and "questing," which is like a scavenger hunt except contestants look for facts, not items.
Campers can become counselors in training and then volunteer counselors over the years.
"It's wonderful the life skills they teach these kids. Kids run the activities at camp," said Muller, adding volunteer adults learn so much too.
Lehigh County uses Camp Shehaqua in the Poconos. The camps have motivational speakers and dances.
There are categories of clubs for most interests.
"We try to teach community service. They collect food for food pantries, Toys for Tots and trail rides for St. Jude Children's Hospital. I'd like to see them involved in therapeutic riding programs," Muller said.
Jess Smith was in charge of the communications program.
While other events were being scored, the 4-H'ers went to the church where they gave demonstrations either as an individual or as a team.
They could illustrate their talks with PowerPoint presentations, toy horses, grooming tools, posters or more.
The biggest problem was getting the timing right.
Each had to give a talk of a certain length depending on whether they were juniors or seniors.
Presentations were on safety helmets, treating burns, dressing for the show ring and grooming among the many.
Muller was thanked for the great organizational job she did and she in turn thanked Weisner for her help.
Flowers were given to volunteers, including Jane Wessner who prepared the written tests and awards handed out to the 4-H'ers.
Jacquie Stayner of Horse Lovers.com presented $50 gift certificates for a drawing to a junior and a senior.
"I really support the 4-H program and thank the parents for bringing them," Muller said.
Lehigh County has two horse clubs. Anyone interested in joining should call 610-391-9840 for information.