Raising horses in Alaska is a lot of hard work, and competing in the 4-H State Horse Contest calls for a lot of hard studying. That’s according to Geri Litzen, who helped organize the state trials that were held on the Kenai Peninsula this year and is the leader of the Northwind Riders in Nikiski.
“We get to host the contest here every four or five years and it’s always nice to have it in our back yard,” said Litzen in an interview with the Dispatch.
Thirty-four kids from 3rd to 12th grades competed in this year’s state trials with 24 of them coming from the Peninsula.
“I’m so very proud of the 12 boys and girls from my Northwind Riders horse club who participated in this year’s contest. Our club worked so hard! I required them to come to study groups weekly or twice a week from September to April 19th. It’s a lot to learn! They also had weekly homework, special speakers, and workshops to attend. These kids did very well, and I was pleased that their diligent effort was reflected in the results,” said Litzen.
The Northwind Riders won both the senior and the junior state championship in Public Presentations.
“Avlynne Wolverton’s presentation, The Building Blocks of Equine Color, on color genetics, was an outstanding and informative speech with a beautiful display board. Avlynne has qualified to compete in nationals, at the Western National Roundups in Denver, Colorado on January 10, 2019. Luthien Collver won for our juniors with her awesome presentation called Giddy up And Go Camping, about overnight horseback camping trips. Luthien was also our junior state champion for Horse Judging. Kellee Martin was our Intermediate who won for Horse Judging which qualified her for nationals as well. Avlynne Wolverton also won for Overall Hippology (the study of horses). Our Senior team also scored a perfect 100 points out of 100 points for Team Problem Solving,” said Litzen.
As the young 4-H members went about their different venues of competition it was apparent that they were doing so without their hand held electronic devices common to most young people today.
“It so refreshing actually. 4-H as a program keeps these kids grounded and really focused on working together as teams and relating to each other. As a team leader I really focus on friendships because it’s so important for them to establish the friendships that are going to be really important for them as they become adults, so I actually do take away their phones and IPad to keep them grounded and even if they don’t own a horse they are welcome in our club. We have a lot of kids that don’t own horses of their own anyone interested in horsemanship is welcome. We start in August and have special guests come in from the community and meet the kids and share their expertise from horse shoeing to first aid. We prepare a lot and in the last month we’ve been meeting together at least twice a week as a group,” explained Litzen.