Youth hippology team show off their horse sense as national reserve champions

LOUISVILLE, KY -- The Illinois 4-H State Hippology team’s knowledge was tested at the Eastern National 4-H Roundup and they came away as reserve champions. The team fielded a wide range of questions, ranging from breed identification, anatomy, tack identification, and feed samples to disease management, parasite identification, and quality assessment. 

The national reserve champion team includes Téa Thomas of Whiteside County, Olivia Charles of Carroll County, Desiree Reid of Mercer County, and Natalie Johnson of Ogle County.

While competition is the focus, youth also develop teamwork skills and connections with other youth.

Being on the team was one of the greatest opportunities that I have had,” says Desiree Reid of Mercer County. “I’ve learned so many different skills and have made friends that I will have for a lifetime.”

youth in dress clothes hold ribbons
L to R: Téa Thomas (Whiteside Co), Olivia Charles (Carroll Co), Desiree Reid (Mercer Co.), Natalie Johnson (Ogle Co.)

Members also earned top billings in individual competition. Olivia Charles of Carroll County was named Hippology Overall High Point Individual and Eliza Engelhardt of Marion County placed 7th in Public Speaking.

“Being a member of the team has given me study skills, teamwork abilities, and the knowledge to be successful in my college career and future occupation,” says Olivia Charles of Carroll County. “And it has given me horse sense to give back to the industry and to be a well-spoken horse woman.”

In 4-H, learning about horses means much more than learning to ride. Through 4-H, young people with a passion for horses can participate in educational contests related to the equine industry regardless of whether they even own a horse. These educational programs enhance members’ knowledge of horse health, breed characteristics, management, and feeding. To learn more, please visit the Illinois 4-H website.

Illinois youth competing in the Eastern National 4-H Roundup are supported by the Illinois 4-H Foundation and its donors.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

Source: Deb Hagstrom, Equine Extension Specialist,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,