A team of Illinois 4-H members won the Eastern National 4-H Roundup Horse Bowl championship held Nov. 4 in Louisville, Ky. The win was a continuation of success for the 4-H members who also earned first place team at the All American Quarter Horse Congress Horse Bowl held in October.
Members of the team include Kiersten Pratt of Bureau County, and Brenna Berns, Megan Poole, Kaiti Collins, and Natalie Shaw, all members of Carroll County 4-H. Bryan Hollewell of Milledgeville coached the team.
Berns earned a fifth pace individual finish in the contest, and Pratt finished as the tenth place individual. Both young woman are pursuing careers in the equine or veterinary industry.
“After not having a team in the contest last year,” Debra Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension equine specialist, “Illinois returned ready to win it.” Hagstrom provides leadership to all aspects of the Illinois 4-H horse program, including the state contest which determines the national team. The Illinois 4-H Foundation provides financial support to the team in national competition.
“Through my many years of involvement in 4-H and the horse program, I have not only grown in my knowledge of horses and the industry, but also as a person, “said Shaw. “4-H has taught me how to work hard in order to achieve my goals.”
Shaw is pursuing a career as a veterinarian. “4-H has equipped me with leadership skills, the ability to successfully work as a team, and communication skills.”
Pratt said 4-H helped her refine her career path. “Because of these 4-H equine competitions, I discovered I have a passion for communications,” Pratt said. The teen is majoring in equine teaching and training, with a minor in communications.
“Without 4-H, I never would have discovered this interest,” Pratt said.
Collins said her lessons extend well beyond the barn. “I learned to work on a dynamic team and never give up when things seem down,” she said. “There is no better feeling than not giving up and knowing you have done the best you can and been the best person you can be at that moment.”
Poole said the 4-H horse project activities have helped her mature and grow. “Before horse bowl, I was that girl that sat in the corner with a book,” she said. “Over the last five years, I have acquired knowledge that has helped me gain self-confidence, leadership skills, and a desire to see others grow in knowledge of the horse industry.”