Do you know what a “stay apparatus” is in horses? Baeya Kardokus, one of the members of the Thurston County 4-H Horse Bowl Intermediate Team from the Blazing Saddles 4-H Club, does. It was just one of the many questions they were asked at the Washington State 4-H Horse Knowledge Bowl competition on May 4 in Ellensburg at Central Washington University. Three years of hard work paid off that weekend, as the team came home Reserve Champions and Baeya brought home the individual title for the 4-Her with the highest number of points accumulated throughout the team competition.

Olympia Federal Savings LogoMolly Pestinger started her journey as the Thurston County 4-H Horse Bowl Team coach three years ago. Her own daughter, Charlotte, is on the team along with Stella Harris, Solana Spector and Baeya, who was the team captain. “Our first year, it was brand new to all of us, so we went to the State competition with no expectations,” shares Molly. “I’d told all the girls that I would buy them ice cream on the way home if they answered any questions correct. Well, after our first match, the girls were so nervous that only one girl buzzed in and we ended up losing the match 30 to -3. After that I told them I would buy them ice cream if they just buzzed in and tried to answer a question, I didn’t even care if it was right!” That tactic seemed to work. The next match they all buzzed in and won the match. That first year the team ended up 5th overall and in 2018 year they were 4th.

From left: Solana Spector, Baeya Kardokus, Charlotte Pestinger, Stella Harris. The Thurston County Horse Bowl team travelled to Ellensburg on May 4 to compete at the state level.

This year, Molly explains, the girls were determined. “The girls had spent a lot of time practicing,” she says. “We’d upped our scheduled practices from once a month to twice a month all year, I assigned homework each practice, I had the girls research and submit questions that we could then practice with, and we went into the competition with confidence.”

Each county in Washington can send one Intermediate team (4-H members ages 11- to 13-years-old at the beginning of the 4-H year) and one Senior team (members 14- to 18-years-old). Thurston County only had an Intermediate team this year. Each team has 3-4 members and the competition is a double elimination bracket.

“Heading in to the final round, we had lost one match and the team we were facing had not lost yet, which means we would have had to win twice in a row to win the competition,” Molly explains. “We won the first match. We were ahead in the second match by one point until the final question, which the Spokane County team answered correctly. That sent us into a five-question tie breaker round. We lost by one point, which meant we finished 2nd overall in the tournament. I was so proud of the girls! It was a very close and hard-fought battle.”

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The girls and their coach pose with their Reserve Champion ribbons from left: Baeya, Charlotte, Molly, Stella, Solana. Photo courtesy: Molly Pestinger

Aside from Baeya, Charlotte Pestinger and Stella Harris also finished in the top 10 in the individual standings.

Educational Fun

The girls love the team aspect of the horse bowl, as well as the confidence it’s given them. “Horse Bowl is a fun team event and a good learning opportunity,” says Charlotte, who is in her eighth year of 4-H. “It’s one of the few team events we do in 4-H and that’s part of why I like it. We do horse bowl practices a couple times a month, but all the kids on the team are good friends and when we get together for other things, we often quiz each other while we are hanging out. One of the team mates is my best friend and when we have sleepovers, we lay in our beds and practice questions together. We even quiz each other while we are riding our horses together and when we are cleaning stalls… pretty much all the time!”

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Baeya (left) and Charlotte (right) on their horses at the 2018 Thurston County Fair. Photo courtesy: Molly Pestinger

“Horse Bowl is a really great sport even if you don’t own a horse,” says Baeya, who is in her fourth year of 4-H. “I love that even though I had no background with horses before 4-H, I’ve been able to learn and become successful. And I’ve made tremendous friendships along the way. Horse Bowl has taught me to be more confident in myself. The first year I didn’t want to guess on any questions, but now if I think I might have the correct answer, I buzz in. And often I’m correct!”

“The educational component of 4-H is very important to me,” says Molly. “It is part of what sets the 4-H program apart from other horse shows. These kids are learning life skills (team work, research skills, study skills, how to overcome nerves, how to speak in public, sacrifice, and the benefits of hard work) as well as a tremendous amount of horse knowledge.”

When asked about the quiz questions, they have a definite favorite. “Their favorite horse bowl question is, ‘What’s another name for Distemper?’ The answer is ‘Strangles.’ They remember that one because they joke that if you have a bad ‘temper’ it makes you want to ‘strangle’ someone,” says Molly.

Horse Sense to Riding Finesse

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Charlotte (left), Solana (center), and Baeya (right) at the 2018 Thurston County Fair dressed up for the Groomsquad competition. Photo courtesy: Molly Pestinger

These girls don’t just know about horses, they all ride as well. Between the four of them they compete in every discipline available in the Thurston County 4-H clubs including driving, dressage, jumping, gaming, reining, mounted trail, in-hand trail, showmanship, and saddle seat, hunt seat, stock seat and bareback equitation. Molly says they also competed at the state Hippology competition in April and placed first. They participate in other 4-H activities as well including judging, public presentations, educational posters, record books and groomsquad – basically all things equine.

See them at this year’s Thurston County Fair!

Still wondering what a “stay apparatus” is? “A system of muscles and ligaments that helps the horse to stand while sleeping,” answers Baeya confidently.

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