Several Mason County 4-H students recently participated in the Kentucky 4-H Horse competition for the first time in several years.
Karen Hopkins, coach for the team, said this year was the first time in seven years that Mason County was represented at the competition.
“We’re getting it started up again, so hopefully it will grow,” she said.
Hopkins said the competition was held June 7-8. There were 100 students who competed from across the state. The Mason County team included Lily Hopkins, 18, Cora Hopkins, 12, Maryfaith Slusher, 15, Julia Dean, 18, and Brittney Gifford, 17.
“It was held in Lexington, with part of it being held in Frankfort — the horse judging part,” she said. “There are three elements. One is horse judging, where you’re judging horses both for confirmation and for performance, so the kids had to recognize a superior horse over a less superior horse and the other part is more of a written test, which covers everything, physiology, anatomy, reproduction, genetics and industry. The last part is quiz bowl, where they ask you questions. You’re sitting there as a team.”
According to Hopkins, the event covers everything students learn in the early years of 4-H.
“This was a state competition, so there were kids from all over the state and our kids did really well,” she said.
According to Hopkins, the team won fifth place for the quiz bowl, Cora Hopkins won second place in the junior category for speech as well as 10th place for hippology and Lily Hopkins placed fifth overall, qualifying her to compete in the Southern Regionals Competition, which will be held in Georgia on Aug. 1.
“All of the Southern states compete in that competition,” Hopkins said. “She’ll be on one of the Kentucky teams. There is also the Eastern Nationals, which is held the first week of November in Louisville. They select the national team from how well the students competed during the state competition and the regionals, so we’re still gunning for a seat on the national team.”
Hopkins said it means a lot to the kids to participate in the competition.
“It’s a chance for the kids to learn and to travel,” she said.
The kids said they enjoyed competing, though they were also a little apprehensive.
“I was nervous, but it was fun,” Lily Hopkins said. “I’m glad I got to do it before I graduated. A lot of the questions they asked about the horses also corresponded with human anatomy, so it’s really helpful in some of my classes, as well.”
Karen Hopkins said it was a good stepping stone for some of the kids, who may go into science- or horse-related fields.
“A lot of these kids will go into science-related jobs,” she said. “It may not necessarily be horse related, but they’ll usually go into some kind of science field, such as nursing, animal health technicians and other fields. They are able to network with universities, so it’s quite inspiring.”
Dean said she enjoyed competing in the bowl and wished she had been able to do it sooner.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “It was educational and we had a great group. We learned a lot of different stuff. It was fun being up there all together, to stay in the hotel together and to be able to give each other pointers and different ways to memorize something.”
Cora Hopkins said she is looking forward to more years of being able to compete.
“This was my first year,” she said. “I’m really excited to go back next year, because now that I know how the contest plays out and I know everything I’m supposed to do. It was very exciting.”
Karen Hopkins said the event is a good experience for any student, regardless of whether or not they own a horse.
“The good thing about this is that you don’t necessarily have to own a horse to compete,” she said. “It’s open to anyone who has an interest.”
“It’s one thing to ride a horse and know about that, but it’s cool to know how your horse’s body works, so you can learn how to care for them,” Bean said.