4-H’ers Ride To Championship Victory – Together
Right before the 2018 Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships in Georgia, longtime 4-H’er Nicole Worth was anxious – this was her final educational event as a competitor, and she wanted to do well.
To calm her nerves, she reviewed her notes and helped her team members prepare.
“When someone else is excited and feeling more prepared because of your help, it helps to pump you up as well,” she said.
Vying against top 4-H equine competitors from 13 states, Nicole and her North Carolina teammates earned top honors in both riding and educational contests. Members of the NC 4-H delegation received both first and second place in the Horse Bowl Contest and the Hippology Contest, and first and third place in the Horse Judging Contest. They also nabbed top-ten individual overall awards in multiple events, and Hunter Division Champion and Gaited Division Champion in the Horse Show High Point Winners category.
“This event brings youth from across the state together in a way that no other event that we do does,” Equine Extension Associate Alaina Cross said. “We see a lot of new friendships that are formed during this week.”
With more than 7 million participants nationwide, 4-H is the largest youth organization in the United States. It’s the only youth organization based at land-grant universities, and the first experience many students have with higher education. Through NC State Extension, North Carolina’s 4-H horse program seeks to develop leadership abilities and build character in addition to imparting equine skills.
“Sometimes success looks like a blue ribbon, but many times it looks like accomplishing a specific goal that you’ve been working towards,” Cross said.
Unique in the country, the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships are chaired by a collaborative committee that represents the 4-H horse programs of 13 states. Participants compete at state-level events, with winners progressing to the regional event. The goal is to provide an event for 4-Hers that challenges participants, showcases their talents and encourages team-building.
For Nicole, the shows started as an obligation to meet 4-H achievement medal requirements, but turned into much more.
“I fell in love with showing with my 4-H club and family,” she said.
Her work competing with 4-H taught Nicole how to handle both success and setbacks.
“Sometimes all it takes is a deep breath and a step back to see the whole picture and a new route to accomplish what you’ve set out to do,” she said.
Preparing for eventual victory at the competition took steady months of work for all students. The North Carolina team’s strong showing
“To hear my name called as a winner was not only a relief, but also exhilarating,” Nicole said. “It showed that all of my preparatory work had paid off.”