Last week, June 7-10, riders from thirty-nine counties came together to compete in the Georgia State 4-H Horse Show held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry. Among the teams of horses and riders selected to compete in the rigorous competition were five local riders – Kyleigh “Bella” Webster, Ella Claire Ferguson, Jayde Waldrop, Marie’ Block and Madison Kurz – from Carroll County who crushed competing with some of the highest scores and rankings in the state.
With the help of teacher Denise Chase from Chase Meadow Lane Farm, the local riders prepared to enter the competition as they each had to meet a series of requirements to even be considered to compete. In March, nominees were selected based on their demonstrated responsibility and commitment to their horses. And in May, each student was required to complete a written book of horse knowledge and practical experience to accompany their entries for the show, including submissions for various educational competitions ranging from painting, drawing and photography categories to essay writing and to the public. Speaking. Each submission had to be in keeping with the theme of the event, “Stirrup Some Fun!” Prior to the competition, each person had to achieve outstanding marks in an equine knowledge exam that would count towards each rider’s individual final score. These extraordinary runners from Carroll County have had some of the highest test scores in the state, with scores between 80% and 80%.
“Compared to other horse shows we participate in, the State 4-H competition has the highest standards of participation. This is an opportunity for all of riding, not just riding,” Chase said.
Kyleigh “Bella” Webster, an 8th grader from Temple Middle School, and her horse Truffle opened the competition with a victory in the Western dressage competition. She achieved a high score of 67% and beat her 2021 winning score. She also placed 3rd in Junior Showmanship and 10th in Pony Hunter, as well as Dressage.
Ella Claire Ferguson, honored 7th grader and Central Middle School volleyball player, won 3rd place in Western Dressage. With her horse Secret Agent Man, she placed 8th in the Hunter Hack event. She has also won top honors in educational competitions, including 1st for Color Photography, 2nd for Black and White Photography, and 2nd for Public Speaking.
Marie’ Block, a freshman at Carrollton High School, won ribbons in Western Dressage, English Dressage, Showmanship, Hunter Pony and Riding. She and A Little Salty, her Arabian pony mare, were the 10th best Hunt Seat Rider in the state.
Madison Kurz, a 7th grader who is active in the Douglas County 4-H program, rode Big Man on Campus, a Paint Oldenburg gelding, with top honors in dressage. She finished 6th in Junior Hunt Seat Showmanship at Hand, 6th in Junior Hunter Under Saddle, and she was ribboned in Hunt Seat Equitation Flat. She is also the 9th highest ranked Hunt Seat rider in the state and has received 4th place ribbons for her painting and essay writing skills in educational competitions.
Jayde Waldrop is a 5th grader at Central Middle School who began her equestrian quest just over a year ago. Along with Whole Lotto Love, a 22-year-old gray Thoroughbred gelding, Waldrop entered the Cloverleaf division and won 3rd place in the Cloverleaf Hunt Seat Equitation and 6th place overall Cloverleaf Hunt Seat Rider Award. She won 1st place for her essay writing, 2nd in color photography, 4th in black and white photography, and 5th in drawing.
A complex player in the success of Exceptional Equestrian Riders is Natalie Moncus. She was a Carroll County Extension agent who assisted the runners by approving all courses and processing their registrations. As Chase Meadow Lane Farm turns 25, it’s no wonder that longtime equestrian and educator Denise Chase continues to breed the best local talent Carroll County has ever seen.