The Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Liberty, NY, was the gathering place for an enthusiastic group of horse-loving 4-Hers on Saturday, April 8. A number of parents and leaders were also in attendance for the launch of the new Horse Bowl (Quiz Bowl) contest.
Spearheaded by CCE’s Barbara Moran of Jeffersonville, 4-H Leaders Colleen Osterhout and Meghan Blumenthal, the Sullivan County 4-Hers were looking forward to the new venture.
Barbara explained that the Horse Bowl is similar to a Quiz Bowl format, with questions based on pretty much anything equine-related, including anatomy, nutrition, racing, gaited horses, history of horses — basically across-the-board knowledge of the horse industry. She attended the regional competition in February, and wanted to start practicing now for the competition next winter, when the Sullivan County team will be competing against teams from other counties including Orange, Rockland and Ulster.
The program is set up under the Cornell University umbrella, following 4-H Horse program rules: its main objective is to provide an opportunity for youngsters enrolled in 4-H horse projects to demonstrate their knowledge in a competitive, fair and friendly setting. The contests also provide educational experiences for both participants and spectators.
For the regional contests, each team consists of at least four and no more than six members. Regions may alter state rules to suit their needs, but all teams that compete in the state and national contests must conform to the state and national rules.
There are three levels of competition:

  • Senior contestants, who must be from 14 to 19 years of age by Jan. 1 of the current calendar year. Seniors must never have been a member of an official Horse Bowl Team representing New York State at an out-of-state Horse Bowl contest, nor have participated in a National 4-H Horse Bowl Contest.
  • Junior contestants, who must not have reached their 14th birthday prior to Jan. 1 of the current year. For State events, a junior youth must have reached their 9th birthday prior to Jan. 1 of the current calendar year.
  • Novice contestants: (Note that this division is optional, as there is no Novice Division at the New York State Horse Bowl Contest. The following guidelines are suggested; each region can create this division to suit their individual needs.) It is suggested that contestants must not have achieved their 14th birthday prior to Jan. 1 of the current calendar year and must never have participated in a Horse Bowl contest at the regional level. At the discretion of the region, exceptions may be made to allow contestants who are 9 years of age or less to compete. Youth 10 years and under may compete as a novice for a maximum of two years.

For this first introduction to Horse Bowl, there was a good number of Sullivan County 4-Hers in attendance, covering all three age levels of contestants. A long table was set up with 12 contestants, six on each side, facing each other and holding a ‘buzzer’ with a light indicator.
Barbara asked the questions, and a timer allowed a certain number of seconds (from five to up to 30 seconds,) for a response. When a question was asked, whoever hit their buzzer first was allowed to answer — after he or she was acknowledged by the judge — which served to induce courtesy and etiquette, and tempered impulsive answers. If the question is answered correctly, that team earned 2 points; if the answer was incorrect, a point is deducted. If there was no response, the judge gave the correct answer and moved on to the next questions. A chart located on the wall was used to tally points — and the winners were announced at the end of the session. Katie Lugauer, of Stonewall Farms, Jeffersonville assisted by tallying the points.
In keeping with the reference materials used, sample questions included “What is the job of a hot walker?” “What is the name of a gait commonly used by a Plantation Walking Horse?” “If a horse receives a body condition of 8 is it a fat, skinny or average-sized horse?”, “Name one body part included in the top line of the horse” “What is the result of a male donkey crossed with a female horse?” “The gallop has how many beats?” “What is the name of the irritating spreading sores caused by the eggs of the habronema fly?” and “How many furlongs are in a one-mile race?”
Many of the parents were impressed by the number of correct responses given, without any prior study of the material, and participants were obviously pleased with the program and looking forward to the next practice.
For more information on this interesting and educational program, please visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension website from your county.