Archive for Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Hippology team headed to nationals

February 26, 2003

Most people probably don't have a clue what the word "hippology" means.

But for four Leavenworth County teens, their knowledge of hippology, also known as the study of horses, has led them to a state championship.

Four members of the Leavenworth County 4-H Horse Club senior team, Amy Fousek, Becky Abramovitz, Shannon Smith and Jason Miles, competed in the annual Kansas State 4-H Horse Panorama on Feb. 8 at Rock Springs Ranch. Their win means the quartet is eligible to compete at nationals.

Also competing in the meet were members of the junior team, which includes youths up to 14 years of age: Sarah Smith, Rachel Berry, Ian Hall and Hannah Davidson.

Becky Abramovitz could barely contain her excitement Monday night when she talked about her team's first-place win that meant qualification for national competition. Even though the 17-year-old had just come in from taking care of her family's five horses in zero-degree weather, her voice was warm and energetic.

A deam come true

"I've been working on this since I was a little kid," Becky said. "Ever since I got in the horse project I've been in-volved with hippology and it's always been a dream of mine to win the state horse panorama and go to nationals."

Another member of the team, Jason Miles, 14, said the team worked hard to prepare for the state competition. Because this was his first year in the senior division, Jason said he and Shannon Smith, had to work hard to increase their knowledge.

"We both moved up from the junior level and we had to learn new stuff," Jason said. "There were all new questions, and in-depth questions."

Jason said the teams are lucky to have Tonganoxie veterinarian Vickie Smith as their teacher.

"It's not like you have to go someplace else to visit a veterinarian or anything," Jason said. "We have our meetings right there in her office -- it's pretty cool."

On-the-job training

Smith, whose two daughters, Shannon and Sarah, are on the team, said, as part of their studies, the horse club members have watched Smith on the job.

"They've see me castrate a horse, pull teeth and do artificial insemination," said Smith, who has been teaching the class for four years, and helped teach it for several years before that.

Because the senior group took first place, they have the choice of two national competitions -- the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, in October, or the National Western Stock Show, set for Denver in January.

"The two older girls will be at K-State as freshmen next fall, so we thought it would be better to get them out in January, which could be Christmas break, rather than taking them out in midterm of their freshman year," Smith said.

Becky Abramovitz said the team couldn't have accomplished the work without Smith, and without one another. The judges look at how the teammates work together, as well as at their knowledge.

"To win the horse panorama, it took a lot of hard work," she said. "It was challenging, but I'm glad that I stuck to the program and I couldn't have done it without the help of my teammates."

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