Area hippology team members bring home awards
Four area teens brought top honors home to North Dakota when they won the 2019 4H Hippology Competition at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado, held January 10-13.
The 4H hippology team representing North Dakota consisted of Jacob Arnold, a Maddock High School junior; Marit Wang, now a student at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins; Victoria Christensen, now a student at Valley City State University, and Ashton Wold, a high school senior from Devils Lake.
Hippology, the study of horses, is one of many competitions for 4H members at the National Roundups. Participants may choose to compete in Denver for the Western Nationals, or Louisville, Kentucky for the Eastern Nationals. Teams from 33 states competed in Denver.
Barb Rice, a self-described “4H Mom” and retired veterinarian, coached the local hippology team with assistant coach Diane Randle, a former teacher. Both women live in the Maddock area.
Rice and Randle said the team’s journey to the top began with a win at the North Dakota State Hippology competition, held last year, when all team members were still in high school.
“There are four different parts to this competition,” Rice explained. “One part is horse judging, where they’re given four different classes of four horses each, and they have to rate them in order of which is best to which is not the best. Two of the classes are halter classes, where they’re judging their conformation (bone and muscle structure and proportions of the horse). Two of the classes are riding classes, where they’re judging how well the horses do in the riding arena.”
Rice continued, “The second part of the competition is a written test, with 100 questions. In that, there are also 50 slides, where they have to identify something (pertaining to the horse). So, the test part of the thing has a written test and slides that are projected.”
“The third part of the competition is called stations, and there’s 10 stations, with 10 questions each, and they’re asked to identify something about the horse, like the equine heart all the parts of the equine heart, or they’re asked to identify which genotype in genetics would make which color of horse,” Rice noted. “So, it’s very advanced.”
Team member Christensen told the Tribune in a phone interview problems involving equine medications are a part of the stations phase of the competition as well. “We had two stations on medications,” she recalled.
Rice said the fourth part of the contest “is the team problem, and they’re given four different team problems, and what it is, is just a sentence, for example, one that was given at the competition was, ‘What would be the cost involved in owning a horse?’ And then, they got as a team, they have 10 minutes to decide what their answer’s going to be, and they all have to speak equally, so they stand up in a row of four, and they speak equally to answer the question.”
Rice described how her team prepared for the competition: “It requires a lot of study. There are lots of different things bones, digestive system; the tack that’s used for the horse like the parts of the saddle, parts of the bridle, different kinds of bits there are two big books that (they study).”
“Winning Nationals doesn’t just happen,” she said.
Team member Arnold agreed. “We have anatomy and physiology, genetics, nutrition, parts of the saddle and riding maneuvers, and things you can do with horses. It’s pretty complex.”
Arnold said he had been preparing for the hippology competition for “at least three years now.”
Rice described all of her team members as horse owners, but she noted participants who don’t own horses have also competed in the past.
Arnold said of the win, “It’s pretty amazing. I’m still letting it sink in.”
Wang agreed. She was awarded 1st High Individual at the competition in addition to placing 1st with her team.
“It really didn’t set in until about a day afterwards,” Wang said. “We were shocked, but also really confident with how we had competed all week. We were really surprised, and proud of each other for how we did.”
“It was very exciting, and humbling, too,” Christensen said of the win. “And two individuals on the team placed 1st and 2nd High Individual,” she added.
Christensen took 2nd High Individual at the competition, behind Wang.
“It was very exciting,” teammate Wold noted. “It was something we had prepared for a long time. It was very rewarding just to go, let alone winning the entire thing. We had a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to meet new people. I think that was my favorite part.”
In an emailed statement to the Tribune, Assistant Coach Randle wrote, “There was extremely tough competition at Denver. Their determination, dedication and hard work earned many individual and team honors in all areas of the testing (horse judging, written exams, stations, team problems). Taking home top honors is a huge accomplishment and this team is well deserving. It truly was a dream come true.”
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