Iberia Parish 4-H horse exhibitors went further this year than in previous years thanks in part to parental involvement, according to the club’s agent.
Samantha Simmons Webre, Iberia Parish assistant extension agent, said the competitors excelled at parish, district and state levels, qualifying for regional competitions.
“This is the first year in quite some time that they’ve reached regionals,” Webre said.
At the district level, three positions in the top-five ranking for Premier Exhibitor were held by Iberia Parish students.
At the state competition, the quiz bowl and demonstration teams won their competitions and went on to face 11 states in the regional competition where the demonstration team placed ninth.
The premier exhibitor, quiz bowl and demonstration teams are all tested for overall knowledge of different aspects of horses.
Webre said the group started studying in March to prepare for the competitions that took place in June and July.
Lisa Patout has been involved with the group as a parent since her daughter Anne began participating five years ago.
Patout has been integral in setting up clinics for the students to learn more about horses and gathering study materials along with Melany Musso whose daughter Maria participates.
Webre said the parents’ dedication to encourage the students to study and work with the horses helped keep the students on track and propel them to a new level.
Musso said having the group studying together instead of separately has been key.
“You have more incentive,” she said.
But she said she’s not surprised by how far the teams were able to go this year.
“Some of the kids really want to learn the knowledge,” she said.
For quiz bowl, students have to learn an array of information from care of a horse to the skeletal system. Once they reach the regional level, Musso said, the questions are on par with what veterinarians might know, like the size of a trachea.
“You can’t walk in and never have studied,” she said.
Maria Musso, 15, said she wasn’t prepared for how difficult the questions would be.
“The questions were so much harder,” she said.
Both she and quiz bowl teammate Anne Patout, 14, had been working with their own horses at home and for other show and riding events before attempting the question-and-answer style competitions.
The quiz bowl team was young, comprised of a fourth-grader, three eighth-graders, a high school freshman and a senior. All of those competitors are now a grade level higher, and unfortunately will not be able to compete in the events they benchmarked this year.
Maria Musso said once competitors win quiz bowl at the state level, they cannot compete in the event again.
“I’m disappointed,” Patout said. “I studied all summer and can never compete in it again.”
Musso said she’ll continue with horse judging, shows and the five-part premier exhibitor competition. She said she wants to be a veterinarian one day.
Patout also said has no intention of ending her competitive career in riding events and the premier exhibitor competition and plans on helping prep younger quiz bowl hopefuls.