The James City County 4-H Chapter, Colonial Riders Club was one of several JCC clubs to make it to the 2017 Virginia State Championships. The Colonial Riders, that call Carlton Farms in Jamestown "home", lead by 4-H Leader Zuleika Hedrick and Coach/Trainer Kayleigh Hirsh of KM Performance Horses, competed strongly in their first year at the State level. The Virginia 4-H program's final and biggest competition of the season is held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, drawing hundreds of riders from across the state. Colonial Riders Gabriella Niemerski and Karissa Smith brought home victories in Junior English Pleasure and Senior English Equitation, earning them a spot in the overall "Classics" competition on the last day. Both finished strong, against some of the best equestrian talent in Virginia. Kaalie Dawson, Kathryn Howlett, and Peyton Hedrick excelled in their individual divisions within the English and Western Classes. It was an incredible finish for the first year team, setting the bar for the future and a clear testament to the quality and amount of work it took to reach the VA State Championships.
The community-minded and youth-managed equestrian programs of 4-H promote participants standing fully on their own, creating an environment of self-sufficiency, dedication, and teamwork. The months of hard work, preparation, and training that culminated in qualifying for the Virginia 4-H Championships, demonstrated the riders earned every bit of their accomplishments and victories. Fund raising and community service projects; regional academic and riding competitions; along with equine studies and formal Horse Care Plans made it possible for Club members to arrive at the VA State competition as developing equestrians and not just "riders". The Colonial Riders Club already has its eyes focused on the preparation and adjustments needed for next year as they move into the off-season. An expanded participation in both English Hunter and Western Pleasure Classes is in the works.
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