Horse expertise takes local youth to state competition

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: (Left) Alli Johnson and Hayle Dohrer will compete at the state 4-H Horse Bowl competition on April 9 in Columbia.

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: (Left) Alli Johnson and Hayle Dohrer will compete at the state 4-H Horse Bowl competition on April 9 in Columbia.

Two Callaway seventh-graders are at the top of their game when it comes to horse sense.

Hayle Dohrer, 12, and Alli Johnson, 13, are on a Callaway and Audrain County 4-H Horse Bowl team that will compete at the state level. After taking second place at regionals, the five-person team will go on to Columbia to compete at the state competition on April 9. Sharon Horn, Callaway 4-H Horse Bowl coach and horse project leader, said it’s been some time since the state Horse Bowl competition has seen any competitors from a Callaway team.

“I know it’s been at least five years from what I’ve been told,” Horn said.

The other three team members are from Auxvasse but are part of Audrain County 4-H — Jayme Fulkerson, Abby Fulkerson and Samantha Clover. Horn said she hopes to see Callaway 4-H’s horse club “rebuild” since for many years, youth had to join another county’s club because there wasn’t a horse club in Callaway County.

Horse Bowl team members meet once a week to drill, study and play games, trying to memorize all the possible answers to horse trivia questions. Dohrer said the team learns all kinds of information about horses such as what they eat, their anatomy, their markings and colors and the different breeds. Both Dohrer and Johnson are fairly confident in their horse knowledge.

Dohrer said she thinks she has most of it down, and “it’s not very hard.”

Johnson concurs, saying, “When I really sit down and think about it, it’s not really that difficult.”

Dohrer, who lives in Calwood, has been a member of the Williamsburg Pioneers 4-H club for three years. The Williamsburg Elementary seventh-grader said being involved with horses in 4-H enables her to compete at the Callaway Rough Riders Arena. She explains that the pole-bending, barrel racing and showmanship she participates in is good practice for what she plans to do when she’s older — compete in rodeos.

Her father, Chris Dohrer, supports his daughter’s goal saying, “There’s a lot of scholarships for that kind of stuff.”

Dohrer has four horses at home, but her favorite is a quarter horse named King.

“I like King the best, because he’s really hard on other people,” she explains. “You have to get to know him before he’ll do things for you.”

Johnson, who lives in Fulton, has been a member of the Fulton Hardin Hustlers 4-H club for four years. Even though both Dohrer and Johnson have been in 4-H multiple years, this is the first year they have participated in Horse Bowl. Horn said it was exciting for the girls to reach the state level during their first year in the competition.

“They’ve worked very, very hard,” she said.

Johnson rides Miss Kitty, a Welsh mare, when she competes at the Rough Riders arena. She explains that she trades her labor at the farm where her horse, Legacy, is boarded to ride Miss Kitty. Until Johnson breaks Legacy, an appaloosa sport horse, her trainer will allow her to ride the Welsh mare. The seventh-grader at Fulton Middle School said being a member of the horse club allows her to meet new people, have fun and get to know her horse.

“Building a trust with your horse is the most important thing,” Johnson said.

Horn encourages anyone interested in joining 4-H to contact the Callaway County Extension Center at (573) 642-0755.

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