Teamwork pays off

The 4-H Horse Drill team returned from the New York State Fair with the Laura Beth Jansen Drill team, state championship trophy for the third year in a row.

The 4-H Horse Program worked together all year for the chance at competition at the New York State Fair. Dedication and commitment to excellence was very evident from six members of the 4-H Horse Program: Mikaela Swanson, Jamestown; Kendra Hockran, Bemus Point; Gracie Morrison, Fredonia; Taylor Clark, Kennedy; Rachel McCarthy, Sinclairville; Montanna Pope, Cassadaga; with Emily Swanson, Jamestown as alternate.

These young ladies began practicing months ago, meeting weekly with their horses to develop, choreograph and practice their drill team presentation. The Chautauqua County 4-H Horse Drill Team is coached by Ann Masood of Fredonia with assistance from Fran Hockran of Bemus Point.

In this synchronized equine event, six riders from a county develop their own drill, 5 to 10 minutes in length. Each drill must include, but is not limited to, the following four maneuvers: pinwheel; thread the needle; oblique; and mesh/interlocking fingers. The Chautauqua County riders and alternate developed their performance set to a Lion King theme, outfitted both themselves and their horses, and performing with themed music. Executing maneuvers on a horse is difficult and synchronizing with five other riders is even more complex.

The team was presented the Laura Beth Jansen Trophy. Laura was a dedicated 4-H who lost her life in a car accident in December 2006 at 18 years old. She was said to exemplify a 4-H youth by those that knew her.

The winning run of the Chautauqua County 4-H Drill Team can be seen on

Coach Hockran said, “These kids and their coaches begin working on Drill Team in February, when we work on the pattern, select the music and the members work on the movements and pattern on the ground without horses. We met weekly, practicing consistently. We developed a good camaraderie with the kids and their parents, having fun throughout it all. We were all nervous, excited and very proud to be at state fair. Parents and kids and coaches all wear Lime green shirts to show our team spirit. It was an awesome sight to see all the smiles and encouragement. And then the announcement that we have taken 1st place for the third year in a row, fills everyone with such pride and a real sense of accomplishment. Compliments goes to the kids, their parents and their trusting horses for the hard work and dedication, and to Ann for her knowledge of what works and guiding the kids so diligently. I love Drill Team!”

This accomplisment also earned the team the opportunity to perform at the opening performance of the state fair’s barrel racing event in the Toyota Coliseum. The exhibition was well received by the over 1,000 spectators.