‘The future of 4-H’: 4-H and FFA youth compete in horse show at Worth County Fair

Published 5:39 am Thursday, June 20, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

It was an overcast but pleasant day at the horse arena at the Worth County Fair Wednesday as members of Worth County 4-H and FFA competed in the fair’s horse show.

The show focused on two classes of competition. The first, halter class, consisted of participants walking with their horses and presenting them to the judge. They are judged on both how the animal is structured and built as well as exhibitor showmanship. For this to be successful, participants must work with their horses for months prior to the show.

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This year’s judge, Sierra Hagedon, has judged horse competitions for about 10 years. She knows firsthand how much of a challenge the show can be.

“I was a very avid 4-H and FFA exhibitor growing up,” Hagedon said. She uses her knowledge to emphasize what participants are doing well as well as provide constructive criticism.

“If they’re able to understand what they’re doing positively, they can take that and they can excel. But then also understanding where they can improve helps them for the next year and for many years to come,” she said. “What I, as a judge, like to see in all the horses, from the halter classes up onto the riding classes is how that animal … responds to that exhibitor.”

Some parts of the competition are separated into age categories, junior, intermediate and senior. Before announcing the winner of the junior division of the halter class, Hagedon reminded the crowd, “These kids are the future of 4-H.”

The second part of the horse show is performance class. This consists of exhibitors riding on their horses while performing various commands like walk, trot, lope and pivot in front of the judge and spectators.

Hagedon said she enjoys seeing students’ eyes light up as they enter the arena to show people the animals they have worked with all summer long.

Following the horse show the horses are kept in the horse building at the fair for the remaining fair days. These and other animals can be seen through Sunday morning at the Worth County Fair.

In addition to the animal shows, there will be a variety of grandstand events, live entertainment, exhibits and shows. The cost is $10 for daily admission or $20 for a weekly pass. A full schedule of events is available at worthcountyfair.com.