Competitors Meet the Challenge of the 4-H State Competitive Trail Ride

Competitors Meet the Challenge of the 4-H State Competitive Trail Ride

Pictured are the High Point Jr., Sr., and Adult Award Winners. From left, is High Point Jr. Award Winner Cassity Brennan of Bedford County, High Point Sr. Award Winner Laura Wallace of Bedford County, and High Point Adult Award Winner Trysta Brennan of Bedford County. (Photo by Andrea Graeff, Equine Extension Associate)

The 2010 PA 4-H State Competitive Trail Ride, known as “The Keystone Ride”, was held Sept. 17 and 18 in Rothrock State Forest. 4-H members, leaders, family and friends arrived with their horses on Sept. 17, went through pre-ride inspections and prepared to participate in the competitive trail ride on Sept. 18. The 2010 Keystone Ride had participants from Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Clearfield, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lancaster, Northumberland and Union counties.

Competitive trail riding takes place on well-marked trails at a timed pace. Judges observe the ride, inspecting the horses before and after the competition. The ride is not a race against time. Scoring is based on the overall condition of the horse, with points subtracted for any changes in their horse’s condition.

The ride offers high point awards in three divisions. This year’s winners were: High Point 4-H Jr. Rider – Cassity Brennan, Bedford County; High Point 4-H Senior Rider – Laura Wallace; Bedford County, and High Point Adult Rider- Trysta Brennan, Bedford County.

Division Winners:

Division A – Jr. Riding Ponies: First – Cassity Brennan, Bedford; Second – Stacy Suder, Bedford; Third – Heather Mearkle, Bedford; Fourth – Brittany Ewing, Bedford; Fifth – Morgan Harper, Bradford; and Sixth – Shannon Fairchild, Lancaster.

Division B – Sr. Riding Ponies: First –Victoria Ward, Bedford; Second –Ayrian Talbert, Bedford; and Third – Blair Digan, Union.

Division C – Jr. Riding Horses: First – Katie Russell, Clearfield.

Division D – Sr. Riding Horses: First – Laura Wallace, Bedford; Second —Frances McAninch, Clearfield; Third – Katrina Wallace, Blair; Fourth – Mara Yoder, Huntingdon; Fifth – Samantha Fairchild, Lancaster; and Sixth – Ashley Pletcher, Blair.

Division E – Adult/Leader Light Weight: First –Trysta Brennan, Bedford; Second – Caroline Owens, Northumberland; Third – Natasha Brubaker, Bedford.

Division F – Adult/Leader Heavy Weight: First – Jessica Gothie, Bedford; Second – Kim Ewing, Bedford; Third – MaryBeth Fox, Bedford; and Fourth – Lauren Carpenter, Bedford.

The ride also offers horsemanship awards for each youth division. The horsemanship division is judged on overall care and handling of the horse or pony before, during and after the competitive trail ride. This year’s winners in the Junior Division: First – Brittany Ewing, Bedford; Second – Stacy Suder, Bedford; and Third – Morgan Harper, Bradford. In the Senior Division: First – Ashley Pletcher, Blair; Second – Samantha Fairchild, Lancaster; and Third – Ayrian Talbert, Bedford.

This ride is an annual event coordinated by Patricia Comerford and Andrea Graeff. Dr. Scott McAllister, Centre Equine Practice, served as the vet judge for the ride; Mrs. Jennifer Zajaczkowski served as the lay judge; and Ms. Bethany Bickel served as the horsemanship judge. Mrs. Kathy Fye of Centre County served as official timer for the event. Additional help for the ride is provided by PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, local competitive trail riders, Twin Creeks Ambulance Service, members of the Nittany Amateur Radio Club, Penn State Animal Science 327 students, Penn State Equine Research Team members, Penn State Veterinary Science Club members, CHAPS of Penn State and many local volunteers.

The Competitive Trail Ride project is open to all 4-H Horse members in Pennsylvania. For more information on 4-H horse programs, contact your county Penn State Extension office or visit

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