Southern Regional 4H Horse Championships 2015

Southern Regional 4H Horse Championships 2015

By Sarah English

4-H is all about leading, achieving, succeeding, and making the best better.  Never have these themes been more alive than at this year’s Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships in Perry, Georgia.  Though I’ve been involved with 4-H for a few years now, this was my first time getting to fully experience the event I had heard so much about.  It was a week I will always remember, and I am thankful to everyone who made it possible.

One of the unique things about a 4-H horse show is the balance between riding and horsemanship/knowledge contests.  It teaches youth about all aspects of horse ownership and allows them to showcase their skills in a variety of academic settings.  These contests have always been one of my favorite parts of the show; as I get to both learn from my peers about how to better care for my horses and demonstrate my own knowledge in the field.  Local 4-H, LSU, and the state of Louisiana have always been very supportive of this part of 4-H, providing incentives and funding for these programs to flourish.  They made the academic trip to Georgia a possibility for us.

In addition, there has never been more opportunity to learn, improve, and compete as a rider at Southern Regionals.  The clinics, lessons, tips, and advice from Folsom’s finest allowed me to feel confident in representing Louisiana this year.  A horse show as large and with as much talent as Regionals was a little overwhelming, but I had never felt more encouraged and supported in my endeavors.  Adding to the experience was a beautiful facility with top notch judges and officials bringing a degree of professionalism and an air of excitement to riders from all over the southern United States.  The days were surreal and the competition intense, with often over a hundred talented young riders vying for the number one spot in each class.

There were a number of classes to compete in, a few of which were outside of my comfort zone.  Several English riders tried their hand in groundwork, trail, halter, and showmanship.  And of course, ever popular were the hunter and jumping competitions.  My personal favorite was, unsurprisingly, the dressage.

The dressage competition was given its own day at the championships.  This year was the first that riders were allowed to enter in both Training and First Level.  There was an impressive turnout, with over fifty entered in Training and thirty entered in First.  It was daunting to have only one test decide your rank amongst a slew of promising young dressage pairs from around the nation.  However, a test was still a test, and I rode the way I had been taught, pretending it was yet another Amen Corner Farms Schooling Dressage Show.  The odds were in my favor, and my seasoned partner and I rounded out the day with pleasing results.  The championships were over, and we had ended on a good note.  We had a long drive home for me to reflect on the events of the past week.  I had been presented with an opportunity unlike any I had expected, and I am grateful to 4-H and of course to SEDA for preparing me for one of the best experiences the equestrian sport has to offer.

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