When late summer rolls into fall, it signals the start of State 4-H Championship shows. Virginia holds its state 4-H Championship show in September and this year, two young riders, Regan Caplan, and Marybeth Martin, along with their Appaloosa mounts came home with blue ribbons and high point awards.
Let’s meet our champion riders!
Marybeth comes from a family of riders. She started riding with her mother and sister from the time she could walk. She started in 4-H by going to meetings with her older sister when her older sister joined 4-H. She joined as soon as she was old enough to join. She loves being able to learn more about horses and meet new people. In her 4-H group she has participated in hippology, horse judging, horse bowl and has given presentations.
Marybeth’s equine partner is Ochoco Ultimate (Chips), a mare that the family bought in February of 2021. Chips spent most of her life as a broodmare. Marybeth said she always wanted to own an Appaloosa and immediately clicked with Chips when they went to see her. Marybeth says Chips is the most beautiful mare she has ever seen. Chips was rather green with Marybeth started to work with her and had to learn things like showmanship from ground zero. Her goal was to show Chips in the Hunter pleasure which took a lot of work to get her supple and balanced. Luckily, living in Virginia, she was able to do much of this riding her on the mountain trails.
To prepare for the Championship show, Marybeth, and Chips rode nearly every day and went to some smaller shows over the summer which enabled her to practice her ring work and showmanship. Marybeth and Chips qualified in the Senior Hunter Showmanship and the Hunter Pleasure classes. Marybeth moved up an age division this year and knew she would face more difficult competition. Despite being new to showmanship, Marybeth and Chips won her Senior Hunter Showmanship out of 49 entries.
Next up was the Senior Hunter Pleasure. The duo won the first go of the Hunter Pleasure, meaning they invited back to the finals. The next day they ended up 4th in the equitation class and again won the Hunter Pleasure. This win allowed them to come back to the “Classics” class which was for all the champion and reserve champion hunter class winners. Chips and Marybeth ended up Reserve Champion in the Classics among some very tough competition.
For Marybeth, the best part of the state show was spending time with her family and friends in the 4-H community. She was also super excited to meet her goal of making it to the Classics class.
Regan started riding when she was around 4 years old with birthday trail rides with her mom and grandmom. When she was 10 and COVID started, she visited a farm near her home and met the horses that lived there. She would visit daily and bring them carrots. She met the owner of those horses and started riding. She was referred to the Golden Horseshoe 4-H club and met long time appaloosa family member Faye Strickler. Faye invited her to meet and ride her horses. She hasn’t stopped since that meeting.
Regan joined her local 4-H club because she wanted to ride and learn more about horses. She really enjoyed being around other kids who loved horses and spending time with them in activities. She participates in hippology, horse judging and horse showing with the club.
Regan’s mounts for 4-H this year were Faye’s two Appaloosa mares Dori and Sadie who have been retired from showing the Appaloosa Breed Show circuit. Regan started riding Dori two years ago. Dori had been mostly a pasture horse at that time. She likes Dori because she is a forgiving horse who always tries her best. She also rides Sadie, who is Dori’s daughter. Sadie is a horse with more attitude and Regan said this year was the first year they really got along when riding.
To get ready for the state show, Regan rode 6 days a week, no matter the weather. Faye hauled her and her parents to many local shows to practice. She also showed at two Appaloosa breed shows which was a great experience for her.
At this year’s state 4-H show, she showed Dori in the ranch classes and Sadie in the western classes and showmanship. Her favorite classes are the ranch classes which are less stressful for her since she doesn’t have to worry about her horse’s headset or going slow. She was able to keep her nerves in check this year and had a great show. Regan and Dori were Highpoint Overall Ranch ride. With Sadie she was the Grand Champion in Junior Western Pleasure, Reserve Champion in Western Pleasure Classics, Grand Champion in the Horsemanship Classics, High Point Junior Western Rider, and the overall High point winner.
Regan’s favorite part of the show this year was winning the Overall High Point award and the Harris spurs that came with the award. She feels like her hard work paid off and she is proud of the hard work she put in. She enjoyed spending time with her 4-H friends from around the state. And apparently, there was a memorable golf cart drive with Faye that has me rather curious!
Congratulations to both young riders for their accomplishments. Hard work pays off.