4-H has been a part of my life since I was eight years old, so of course I had to go to the biggest 4-H horse show of the year, even if it meant missing almost a full week of class.
My horse Zippy and I have gone to the Big E in Massachusetts for the past two years, so I was excited for our third year.
The first class of all my horse shows is always the most nerve-wracking because first impressions are everything with the show judges.
For our first class, my horse and I went into the coliseum like we had the previous years, except while waiting we waited in the coliseum instead of the holding area.
The ring mistress who helped the judges was my riding instructor and Castleton University senior staff assistant for the Department of Business Administration, Deb Danforth. It was very hard to not talk to her while I was waiting for my turn even though I see her almost every week on campus.
“Having been a parent of an exhibitor, I know how nervous kids can get, so I like to help them relax and answer any last-minute questions they have.” Danforth said when I asked her about her experiences at the Big E to see her perspective compared to mine. “Plus, I get to watch all my favorite kids, sample all the great food and I get to stay with my daughter,” she added.
I had a lot of fun with the other Vermont 4-H members and I made a lot of new memories that will last long after I am no longer in 4-H.
I think the most memorable experience I had this year was having both judges choose me as the winner of the equitation class. I had really wanted to win that class because it is judged based on the rider’s positioning on the horse.
Everyone had to do a pattern at the beginning of the class, but I wasn’t worried because I had practiced it at home the week before. When it was my turn, my horse instantly knew what we were doing, so I barely had to tell him what to do as we went through the pattern.
After we finished the class, we lined up in the center of the arena to hear the placings. The announcer went through the placings from tenth place down to the first place winner. As the list went on, I got more and more anxious.
“In first place from Vermont is number ninety-five, Lauren Hodsden riding I’m Good For Something.” The announcer said over the loudspeaker.
I almost started crying because I was so happy. I patted my horse’s neck as I went to collect the blue ribbon while the announcer went through the placings for the second judge and my name was called again for first place.
“I will not cry in here. I’m being livestreamed online!” I had to tell myself quietly. I know I was smiling ear to ear all the way back to the barn after that class.
The whole event was so much fun and I can’t wait for my final year as a rider representing Vermont at the Big E.
– Lauren Hodsden