July 14, 2003

SUNOL 4-H HORSE GROUP has been in the saddle for both Alameda County Fair events and the County Horsemastership Tests. Of course all the 4-H animal groups participated in the fair, but I don't have all the results just yet. The Horse Group events are held in May and June prior to the opening of the fair, so we can lavish praise on these youngsters for now and you'll just have to wait for the rest! Thanks to Nichole Nelson and her mom, Gina, for getting these results to me.

The fair events include four different categories of horsemanship. In Showmanship, the youngster is judged on how they present their horse, leading it by halter around the ring to show their ability to control and handle the animal. Andrew Nelson placed 6th in the 11 and under age group, in the 12 to 13 age group Nichole Nelson placed 2nd and Katie Surles placed 6th out of 24 contestants.

The Western Pleasure event involves judging the horse on its suitability for a pleasurable ride. As nice as that sounds, it takes a great deal of practice and training to get your steed in control for a slow and relaxed ride. Andrew placed 6th in the walk-jog portion of the event and Katie placed 6th in Western Pleasure overall. The English Pleasure event has the same criteria, only the horse bears English saddle and bridle rather than Western. Nichole rode to 6th place finishes in both English Equitation walk-jog and English Pleasure walk-jog.

In the Games portion of the horsemanship events, the 4-H kids get to let out the stops and race! The timed events involve moving the horses as quickly as possible around obstacles, and Katie placed 6th in Pole Bending. I have no idea what that is, but I know I don't want to try it! Congrats to Katie and the Nelsons.

In June, the Sunol 4-H Horse Group participated in the countywide 4-H Horsemastership Tests, which are part of a six-level skills program. The youngsters take written and riding tests at each level to move up and it takes six years to become a Master. This year the written test was given at Sunol Glen School and the riding tests took place at the Hoxie ranch.

Medals are awarded for highest combination of points in the written and riding tests. Andrew Nelson received his Mini-Bronze High Point medal, the first-year level award, while his sister Nichole received her Bronze High Point, the second-year level award. Travis Hoxie received his Bronze certificate for the written test. Although she is a member of the Abbie-Craneridge 4-H Club rather than the Sunol club, we also congratulate Breanne Maggy for receiving the Silver High Point, fourth-year level medal.

"These awesome kids get to wear their medals on their hats," Adrienne Hoxie explained. "I hope next year our leaders will encourage their members to learn the skills and test their knowledge of horsemanship in this very worthwhile program."

Adrienne was filling me in by phone on some of the details above, when her voice suddenly changed to, well, there's no other word for it, a cooing tone. "Oh, I'm just greeting a special visitor," she said with a sigh. "Did you know I'm a new grandmother?" Cooing definitely allowed. The Hoxie's daughter Erin Amundsen gave birth May 24 to a beautiful baby girl, delighting the family with little Jahnna Renee. Erin and her husband John are moving soon to Heber, Utah, so Adrienne's getting in all the cuddles she can before they leave. Who wouldn't?

VACATION TIME: I'm heading out on vacation for the next two weeks and will be back with more Sunol news August 4. This summer has developed a Girlfriend Get Together theme for me - I've already gone up to Arnold for a blissful couple of days with Nancy Davis, and down to Capitola for a sun-drenched two-day jaunt with my best bud Lynda Kanzler of Sebastopol. Tomorrow I head for Philadelphia to visit a dear friend, and then to a week of fun with my sister-in-law at a Unitarian Summer Institute in Virginia (read: camp for grown-ups).

On my way home, I'm stopping near Atlanta for a visit with my best friend from junior and senior high school, whom I haven't seen in 35 years. I think the odds are good that I'll be talked and laughed out by my return! Enjoy the next few weeks!

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