ST MARYS — It has been at least 10 years since Elk County had a state-level champion crowned at Pennsylvania’s 4H State Horse Show. A St. Marys competitor recently changed that.
Windfall Farms’ 4H club, “The Livestock Crew,” consists of six Elk County riders. The program leases horses for students, so if a rider doesn’t have one, they can still participate, said Owner Rachel Fledderman.
Olivia Meyer, 11, of St. Marys, was crowned Grand Champion at the state show, held at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Andie Swanson of Kersey competed in a class of nearly 30 riders, coming in second place as Reserved Champion.
“As the barn owner, winning at the State 4H Horse Show is proof that the systems we have in place for our riders is working,” Fledderman said. “Our riders work hard, year-round, on the hot, hot days and the days when it’s 30 degrees.”
Olivia Meyer competes on Kati, a Windfall Farms horse she has a love for, as well as competing, Fledderman says.
“They make a great team, and as we all stood and watched her ride in Harrisburg, it was a ride that stood out in the ring,” she said.
Elk County riders compete against youth from Clearfield, Cameron, McKean, Jefferson, Potter Warren and Forest counties at the district show, before making it to states, according to a news release. They also attend 4H meetings, complete a project and compete in local shows, learning skills in responsibility, care and safety, as well as making friends with similar interests.
Other state show ribbon winners from Elk County include Trenton Mosier of Weedville, Alexandria and Alexis Swanson from Kersey and Ava Villella of St. Marys, according to a news release.
“They have so much skill, and I’m excited to watch how horses continue on with each of these riders as they grow up,” Fledderman said.
The Elk County 4H program offers many opportunities for youth interested in horses, competitive riding and other activities unrelated to horses, said Natalie Aiello, 4H Youth Development Educator for Elk and Cameron counties.
“These young ladies won first and second place, among all the competitors across the state,” she said. “That is a pretty amazing accomplishment that truly shows the amount of work that they put into their passion.”
For more information on 4H, contact the Penn State Extension office at 814-776-5331.