Tuesday, February 12, 2013

4-H and Fair Season

Big long post about Rebecca’s first year 4H experience.

It’s probably best I start off by explaining what 4H is.  You can read about it here.  The 4 H’s in 4H is for head, heart, hands, health.

4-H LogoI pledge my Head to clearer thinking,
my Heart to greater loyalty,
my Hands to larger service and
my Health to better living
for my club, my community and my country.


Our Vision — To share the value of a clear Head,
loyal Heart,
serving Hands and better Health
with youth, volunteers and communities across Ontario.


This year 4H celebrates 100 years in Canada.  It began in the agricultural field but has expanded to a wide variety of interests.  Local counties or townships set up their 4H region.  Each region runs a variety of clubs, depending on the volunteers they have.  For example, this year our girls signed up for Scrapbooking and the Rabbit club in the Niagara region and Miniature Horse and Music in the Haldimand region.  Because we live near both regions it is easy for us to hop borders and participate in both regions.  The Haldimand region did not offer Scrapbooking and the Niagara Region did not offer Music, so we made use of both regions.

The nice thing about 4H is there is one fee per year and then you can participate in as many clubs as you would like.  A base amount of that fee goes to 4H Ontario and then part of it stays in the local 4H region, this is why it is possible for us to use different regions and not pay very much extra, just the local fee.  So this year we paid $65 to the Niagara region and $15 to the Haldimand region to hop to their region.  For a total of $80 the kids can participate in as many clubs as they would like (or they and their mom can handle).  Some clubs may have some additional fees, like last year Rebecca did the sewing club so she needed material (in her case it was free as we have several boxes of material downstairs that we collected off of freecycle). Rebecca also pays an additional fee to use one of the leaders horses in her miniature horse club … to me $30 is a whole lot cheaper and less hassle then having her own horse.

Animal clubs partake in the local fairs as well as complete an Achievement Day, which is at a local fair with all the 4H members of different animal clubs.  If it’s not an animal club the kids are encouraged to place the things that they made in the local fair, for example Rebecca had the pillowcase she made in Sewing Club in the fair and received 3rd place.

For 2012 we placed Rebecca in 4H. Our two girls are as opposite as day and night.  Both girls had been taking Voice Lessons but it became apparent to us that Marietta was a natural and Rebecca was struggling and being at different levels meant that there was conflict and a lot of pressure on Rebecca who enjoys singing but was not able to use her voice the same as her sister.  So we suggested she let Voice Lessons go, to sing her hearts content out but not worry about having to keep up with her sister and just enjoy singing.  This was met by much relief from Rebecca.  In exchange we suggested she give 4H a try and maybe she could find something that works for her.  Part of 4H is teaching kids how to be leaders, how to take confidence in what they are doing, but to see beyond themselves and focus on how their actions affect others.  While Rebecca has no problem thinking about others she is often shy and scared to take a step forward and we hope that through 4H she can develop herself instead of being in her sisters shadow.  It is easy to feel you are like have to keep up to your sister when you are the younger one and at the same time it’s easy to depend on that sister to speak up for you or do something for you when afraid.  Being on her own means Rebecca has to speak up for herself and it gives her a chance to develop who she is.

After much hum-hawing Rebecca chose the Sewing Club and Miniature Horse club for her first year in 4H.  She enjoyed the Sewing Club but it was the Miniature Horse club that really became her thing.  She had a wonderful leader and a wonderful horse.  Prince has a special spot in Rebecca’s heart now and the two did really well together.

Rather then break it into all individual posts I’m just going to do one long post with lots of pictures of Rebecca and Prince to follow.

At the Barn

During the summer months Rebecca would go to the barn about once a week to spend a couple hours working with Prince and learning how to care for Prince, prepare him for shows and what is required when showing.

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The Practice Show – August 11, 2012

In August they had a practice show at one of the leaders farm.  This was a good opportunity for the kids to understand exactly what they were suppose to do and gain some pointers from the Judge.  This was especially good for the first year kids like Rebecca who had no idea what to expect.   Unfortunately it rained.  We needed rain so it wasn’t that unfortunate, but the time was unfortunate.  They managed to make an area in one of the sheds to do the showing, but this meant that it was closed in and there was not much room so the kids were not able to watch each show group and see what was going on or gain pointers from what the others did.

Dale and Rebecca getting Prince all ready to show 4h


Rebecca in show line, looking rather nervous and unsure


Being judged … Rebecca got third in her division


After the showman judging they gave the kids a chance to do the obstacle horse.  None of them were trained for this but those higher up in showman ship can opt to do this with their horse.  This was just a fun exercise for the kids.  The kids came into the barn one at a time as there was no additional room after the obstacle was set up.  This meant Rebecca had no idea what the others had done before her and when it came to her turn she left very discouraged and upset as she could not get Prince to put his back legs in the hoop.  Little did she know she had done an excellent job and not one of the horses put their feet in it.   Dale (Prince’s owner) couldn’t believe that Rebecca got him to actually step through the hop as he has a fear of hops after stepping on one and having it come flying up at his butt. 

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Smithville Fair – September 1, 2012

Rebecca’s first real competition was the Smithville Fair.  We were warned that Fair Season = Rainy Season.  But we were fortunate to only have rain on the practice show, no rain for any of the other fairs we partook in.

Preparing (aka beautifying) Prince.


There are several different division of judging.  In the Miniature Horse club Rebecca is taught how to show a horse, which is the Showmanship Division.  In this division she is judged on her appearance, how she dresses, that her hair is neat and out of her face, pants are right length, gloves are neat and proper length, etc.  She is judged on how she acts and presents.  Having a horse that listens to your commands, is under your control, but if the horse decides to do it’s own thing that she remains calm and collected, and properly brings the horse back into line.  They are taught various show patterns that they must learn.  The judge sets the pattern at the beginning and they must know what is expected of them when they show (eg walk then trot, stand, turn, trot, stop, walk, etc).  They are judged on how they stand in line when they wait their turn, that their horse is square (feet are lined up … as you can see on the picture below) and that they are facing and looking at the judge at all times.  The Showmanship Division is the one that Rebecca came to the fairs to do what she learned.

Waiting in line, Prince nicely squared, for her turn before the judge

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Being judged.

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Back in line waiting while the others are being judged … love the difference on her face, from tense, nervous to relaxed and smiled.  The horse beside Rebecca is also Dale’s horse and Dale’s granddaughter Emma trains with this horse.

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For her first fair Rebecca came home with 2nd place in the Showmanship category. 

As well as entering in the Showmanship Division the girls  also entered in a few other divisions, in these divisions the judge is looking specifically at the horse and it is the horse that is being judged.  How you care for the horse is going to reflect here, but a lot of time this is just simply on the preference on what the judge likes to see in a horse.  Apparently greys (as Prince is, altho he looks white) don’t do well in this division and so Rebecca was warned Prince wouldn’t do so well in this area … but she knew that these were just extra divisions that get her and Prince warmed up (they come before the Showmanship Division) for the real thing.  Rebecca (or should I say Prince) came home with a 5th place in the Gelding Division.


Binbrook Fair – September 15, 2012

Binbrook Fair was the next one that Rebecca went to.  She had been warned that Smithville Fair has been very small and not well attended (they said that was the fastest they had ever done the showing as there were so few horses there) so the competition at Binbrook would be a bit more and harder.

Once again the girls did a few divisions before hand where the judging was on horse (e.g. gelding, solid colours, etc) before they did the Showmanship Division. 

Showing their numbers.  After everyone has gone the judge asks them to show their numbers again so he can tally up and register the winnings.

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Next in line for the Showmanship judging

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This time there were two girls there from school that Rebecca knows … lined up together here.P1130546 2

The best part of the day was that these three girls took First, Second and Third.  Big smiles from Rebecca … she took first and we overheard that the judge was really impressed with how she did.  Great job Rebecca!!

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Rebecca – 1st; Kendra – 2nd; Emma – 3rd

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Achievement Day at Caledonia Fair

September 29, 2012

Next was Achievement Day.  This is similar to the Fairs but meant for only 4H members … so only those signed up in the local 4H clubs, no others and no adults.

In the “ring”, the judge chatting to them


Rebecca had some trouble with Prince losing his lead rope twice.  Thankfully she was the last one who had to go and so she could get it fixed up before it was her turn

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Rebecca, Kendra and Emma … they like to stick together

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Emma – 1st; Rebecca – 2nd. 

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Both Dale’s horses, both girls lead/taught by Dale.  Dale did a wonderful job with the girls and they really enjoyed their barn time.  Dale also said the girls could continue to come to the barn whenever they wanted.  It hasn’t been as often as Rebecca had hoped as winter set in and things got busy with other things, but once the weather warms up I’m sure she’ll be out there more often again.

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Rebecca’s first year of 4H went well and she decided she wanted to do Miniature Horses again this coming year.  She will no longer be a novice and that means she’ll be allowed to learn how to do jumping (she started learning a little of that in the fall after Acheivement Day) as well as driving a cart. 

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