County hippology group reaps rewards at national meet
Four Leavenworth County 4-H youths recently realized one of the many joys of 4-H -- the ability to participate in a national competition.
Shannon Smith, Jason Miles, Becky Abramovitz and Amy Fousek attended the 84th annual Western 4-H Roundup, held Jan. 8-11 in Denver. The four participants in the hippology -- study of horses -- all came home with ribbons to prove their success.
Shannon received seventh place overall, seventh place in stations, and second place in judging. Jason received fifth place in stations. And as a team, the four placed fifth overall, third in judging and fourth in stations.
For Amy and Becky, who are in their first year of studies at Kansas State University, this is their last year of competing in 4-H, which has an age limit of 19.
But Shannon, a freshman at Tonganoxie High School, and Jason, a sophomore at Free State High School in Lawrence, are likely to continue. In fact, they plan to participate in February in the state hippology competition, along with new team members.
To succeed in hippology, students have to know and understand various facts about horses. For instance, there's anatomy. And then there's rest, which could include identifying samples of grain and hay, knowing the countries of origin of the different species of horses, and even how to create their own boarding facility.
In fact, one part of the competition gave the team 10 minutes to design a boarding facility.
Then, before the judges, they explained how they would build the project on 50 acres of ground. They also had to determine where they would build barns and fences; install water hydrants; and how they would be sure the property had adequate drainage.
Competition was stiff, said the 4-H'ers, who qualified for the national contest a year ago by taking first place at state.
"All the teams that were there had to win state competition in their states to qualify, so they were the top competitors in their states," Shannon said.
Team members referred to themselves as being "like family" because they have studied together for so long. In fact, the team's coach is Shannon's mother, Tonganoxie veterinarian Vickie Smith.
Becky has competed in hippology for eight years, Amy for seven years, and Shannon and Jason for five years.
Accompanying them on their trip to Colorado were Vickie Smith, and her younger daughter, Sarah, who also is a 4-H hippology participant.
The youths agreed that they want to continue studying horses, in and out of 4-H.
"We will probably all end up working with horses in some way," said Amy, who is a pre-veterinary major.
Shannon agreed, saying, "I want to be with horses no matter what."
And, the older girls said they were sad that their years in 4-H are ending.
"I can't believe I'm not going to be in hippology anymore," Becky said. "We were all like a little family."