OTTUMWA — In the heat of an Iowa summer, 17 4-H members brought a year's worth of work into the horse show ring Tuesday.
The Wapello County 4-H Expo had one event scheduled for the day because it literally takes all day. The horse show was held in the Greater Ottumwa Park arena under the blazing sun, but that didn't stop the showmanship or the educational opportunities.
Members of the horse project hold meetings and clinics throughout the year, the horse judging team will be going to the national competition in Oklahoma and can even be part of a quiz bowl. But the expo show is the culmination of all that learning.
"The meetings and clinics are a good foundation for what they're going to do out here," said Laci Morrissey, the chairwoman of the horse committee, which consists of parents and community members. "They're learning about show preparation, safety and horse management."
At the end of the day, champions and high-point winners were announced. The long schedule included 40 classes, including in-hand, pleasure, speed and several fun events. Morissey says the 4-H members can do a little bit of everything or decide to specialize.
While Clover Kids is designed for students in kindergarten through third grade, only 4-H members in fourth grade through 12th grade compete in the horse show. The age groups are divided up for more competition.
Austin Angle, 14, is a member of the Hooves and Hats 4-H Club. He's participated in the horse program since third grade, and he has been deeply influenced by his family. His dad, Aaron, was in 4-H as well, and Austin just wanted to show horses.
"You work all year to be ready," he said. "You make sure they're healthy, take care of them. Then before the show, you make sure they're not too fat and not too skinny. It's part of making sure they're healthy."