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Cornell Cooperative Extension holds 4-H "Horsebowl" workshop

PLATTSBURGH Every February, local 4-Hers test their horse knowledge in a friendly and fairly judged competition called the Horsebowl. The competition also serves to further educate 4-Hers and spectators on a wide variety of equine subject matter. A group of young 4-Hers participated in a workshop Oct. 27 to help prepare them for the upcoming Horsebowl. Most of those in attendance had never participated in a Horsebowl competition. The workshop, which was the first of its kind, was held at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building in Plattsburgh. Alexa King, the 4-H agent, saw a need for the workshop, and recruited experienced volunteers. She began the instruction by explaining how fairness is maintained throughout the competition by strict adherence to 28 pages of rules and regulations for the event from the New York State 4-H Handbook. Later in the workshop, she provided all participants with copies of the rules. All in attendance were active participants in setting up the room and the electronic equipment for a mock competition. The set-up accommodates two teams with four members on each team, and two alternates on standby. Long time 4-H leaders Sheri and Jim King and their adult daughter Jessica, who advanced to state competition in the Horsebowl numerous times during her time in 4-H, volunteered to share their expertise. Frequent laughter from all in attendance made it obvious they were also experts in keeping learning fun. Jessica shared numerous tips with her young audience that were sure to give them an edge in future competitions, such as how to hold the buzzer button so it was slightly pushed down, so they could push it a fraction of a second faster than the other competitors. She stressed the importance of not letting go of the buzzer until the moderator acknowledged them. Dont be afraid to hit the buzzer, she said. I got a lot of questions wrong, but I got more right. The reason I was able to win the regional event is because I hit the buzzer first twice as many times as anyone else. Ms. King pointed out all the questions came from a specific list of references in the rule handbook, and the reference would be listed on the question, to help the maintain fairness in judging whether an answer should be deemed correct. Once the instructors felt they had covered all the bases, they led the 4-Hers through several mock competitions. Ms. King served as the moderator, Mr. King as the timekeeper, and Jessica and adult volunteer Dyana Allen were the scorekeepers and judges. The questions covered all aspects of equine subject matter. For example, the 4-Hers were asked to list four types of grass hay, to state the pulse rate of a mature resting horse, to name the breed of horse used in harness racing, and to describe the port on a bit. After the fact-filled three-hour session, the young 4-Hers went home with increased horse knowledge and a fun experience that increased their confidence for the real competition in February.

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