Skip to Content
/ Articles / Community /

2023 Pennsylvania State 4-H Horse Show

by Penn State Extension

Nov 21, 2023

The 63rd annual Pennsylvania State 4-H Horse Show was held Oct. 26-29 at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. More than 600 youth from over 50 counties participated in 80 performance classes throughout the weekend. There were over 1400 entries shown by youth who qualified for the show.

The State 4-H Horse Show is the final competition of the year for 4-H horse members enrolled in performance horse projects. To be eligible for the show, members must advance through qualifying competitions at county and district levels. Events include showmanship, horsemanship, equitation, pleasure, over fences, driving, western riding, reining, trail, and timed events. An equestrian with disabilities division for riders with special needs is also included.

All class champions in the show were awarded champion ribbons and custom Wendell August Forge pewter plates, as well as embroidered champion jackets. Reserve champions in each class received a gift certificate donated by Perri’s Leather.

Show management and participants appreciated the continued support and generous donations from our Grand Champion sponsor, The Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Reserve Champion Sponsors PW Wood & Son, Inc., Perri’s Leather, and Tory Leather Company. Blue Ribbon Sponsors, C&M Pine Products, Pam Nealer, Penn State Animal Science, the PA 4-H Horse Program Development Committee, and Boot Barn.  Clover Sponsors Rt. 40 Aggregate & Feed and Saddles Etc.

Breed scholarships were also generously awarded by the Keystone Appaloosa Club and the Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association. The Keystone Appaloosa Club awarded a $500 scholarship to the High Point English and High Point Western exhibitor showing a registered Appaloosa horse to be presented at the annual Keystone Appaloosa Club banquet. The Pennsylvania Quarter Horse Association awarded a $500 voucher for High Point English and High Point Western exhibitor showing a registered Quarter Horse.

John Bruner, from Indiana County, was recognized as the 2023 4-H Horse Program McAllister Outstanding Equine Member Award. For this achievement, John received a tack closet generously donated by C & M Pine Products of Spring Mills, PA, and a leather halter and lead donated by Tory Leather Company. John has been a 4-H member for 11 years in the Trailblazers 4-H Horse Club, Gordon 4-H Club; Lucky Kids 4-H Club Goat; Outdoor Adventure Air 4-H Rifle Club; Indiana County Teen Council; and Indiana County 4-H Shooting Sports Club. He has participated in the 4-H Horse project, livestock projects, leadership project, forestry projects, and many others. John has served in many officer roles in his 4-H clubs and participated in numerous leadership and community service activities in Indiana County. He also is serving as the Environmental Sciences, Shooting Sports, and Camping Working Group State Project Ambassador. John has participated in many educational contests throughout his time in 4-H, including horse bowl, hippology, and public speaking. He has taken it upon himself to work hard in his club to promote 4-H and the horse program through various events and programs, all while learning incredible communication and leadership skills along the way.

John stated, “4-H has provided me with so much knowledge, opportunities of a lifetime, and skills that will remain with me forever. 4-H has been an amazing journey for me so far. I can’t wait to see where 4-H will take me in the future!”

McAllister Outstanding Equine Member Award finalists were presented halters and leads donated by Tory Leather Company of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and grooming trays provided by C & M Pine Products.  In addition to the winner, the finalists include Phaedra Bower – Clinton County, Sylvia Decker – Mifflin County, Eliana Fetters – York County, and Kaitlynn Lebo – Westmoreland County.

The Pennsylvania 4-H Horsemanship Skills Program is a progressive educational opportunity that focuses on learning at the appropriate pace for each horse and youth team. Developing knowledge and promoting the safety of youth is the goal at every level of the program. Level 1 emphasizes basic, correct, and safe principles of handling and riding at the walk and trot; Level 2 builds a solid foundation of horsemanship skills and introduces the lope or canter and correct aids; Level 3 and Level 4 challenge riders to continue to develop their skills and are the most advanced levels. Congratulations to all these achievers!

Several youth received certificates and awards from their districts for passing Level 3 of the Horsemanship Skills Program. The 4-H members recognized for passing Level 3 include Maggie Schwalm – Butler County, Julia Dillon – Mifflin County, Ava Fedak – Berks County, Machaella Knelly – Columbia County, Savannah Sowers – Centre County, Melanie Haugh – York County, and Cassidy Latchaw – York County.

Members of the 4-H Horse Program Development Committee provided custom belt buckles to 4-H members mastering Level 4 of the Horsemanship Skills Program. This year’s level 4 Horsemanship Skills awardees are Kendall Myers – Butler County, Machaella Knelly – Columbia County, Ava Fedak – Berks County, Cassidy Latchaw – York County, and Melanie Haugh – York County.

Pennsylvania 4-H Recreational and Alternative Equine Activities programs include the Hoof Hour Awards recognition. This program promotes alternative activities with horses and sets attainable goals for youth participating in equine activities outside the show ring. Recognition includes awards at the 50 and 100-hour level locally, the 200-hour level from the district, and riders reaching 300 hours of time on a single animal will be recognized with an award supplied by their district. Youth reaching 300 hours include: Zoe Kelter – Bucks County, Raylee Smith – Adams County, Shelvia Espenshade-Fritz – Bedford County, Amelia Clifford – Bucks County, Maisy Funk – Berks County, Taylor Miller – Butler County, Khaidyn Davenport – Columbia County, Rachel Bardsley – Dauphin County, Kylie Shuffstall – Crawford County, Moriah Conley – Cumberland County, Blake Kronenwetter – Elk County, Leland Hildersheim – Elk County, Serina Bennett – Elk County, Braydon Mosier – Elk County, Maddison Barnhart – Indianna County, Abigail Zellers – Lebanon County, Lilly Fisher – Lebanon County, Ella DiPaola – Luzerne County, Peyton Jones – Montgomery County, Shelby Beidleman – Schuylkill County, Rebecca Haley – Susquehanna County, Alaina Reitz – Venango County, Sydney Hoffman – Venango County, Evelyn Ongley – Warren County, Avery Morton – Warren County, and Nora Morton – Warren County.

Those members achieving 500 hoof hours on a single animal are recognized at the State level and received a chair provided by the Development Committee.  The youth that achieved 500 hours include: Charlotte Duvall – Adams County, Shelvia Esbenshade-Fritz – Bedford County, Sharlotte Esbenshade-Fritz – Bedford County, Kayden Johnson – Bradford County, Olivia Miller – Bucks County, Ryan Hineline – Luzerne County, Madisen Brown – Luzerne County, Lilliana Bates – Mercer County, Isabella Mullen – Montgomery County, Laurel Knerr – Schuylkill County, Aliyah Webster – Schuylkill County, and Alaina Reitz – Venango County.

Equine Extension Associates, Adam Guiste and Joe Stanco, worked with Team Horse Power members to provide hands-on clinics for youth and adults. Activities at the State 4-H Horse Show included the Ground Roping Contest, where contestants were judged on specific criteria, such as swing and delivery, and the Mop Pony Classic, where contestants had fun competing with their most well-trained mop ponies.  Team Horse Power is a leadership program that trains and empowers teens and young adults to develop their individual skills and in turn teach horsemanship skills and mentor youth. Team members work at county, regional and state activities to help youth improve their horsemanship abilities, promote safety, and provide information about 4-H programs.

Team Horse Power members were presented medallions in recognition of their achievements and service to the 4-H Horse Program. Team Horse Power members include Serina Bennett – Elk County, Ava Bush – Erie County, Madison Calhoun – Lancaster County, Barry Decker – Mifflin County, Sylvia Decker – Mifflin County, Julia Dillon – Mifflin County, Helayna Hollobaugh – Elk County, Kaitlynn Lebo – Westmoreland County, Reed Messer – Butler County, Trenton Mosier – Elk County, Kendall Myers – Butler County, Rhianna Penfield – Elk County, and Savannah Sowers – Centre County.

The 4-H Horse Program Development Committee has been awarding scholarships for the outstanding Team Horse Power members since 2015. Participation and evaluations throughout the year were considered, when applications were reviewed, along with a horsemanship knowledge evaluation. The 2023 scholarship winners were Sylvia Decker – Mifflin County and Julia Dillon – Mifflin County.

Equine Educational Exhibits were on display throughout the show for youth to demonstrate acquired horsemanship knowledge. Exhibits were judged on equine related facts and educational content. The grand champion was the exhibit entitled “What in the Whorl” by Brecken Benasutti – Lebanon County. The reserve grand champion was the exhibit entitled “Breeds of the World” by Stride for Stride 4-H club from Elk/Cameron Counties.

A banner was awarded to the overall grand champion in the category of Good Housekeeping. This year’s recipient of the Grand Champion award was Sullivan County.

The Pennsylvania 4-H Horse Safety Awards program promotes safety by recognizing the efforts of youth and adults in creating and delivering equine safety programs. This program highlights the leadership of 4-H in safety education and accident prevention. This year’s 4-H Horse Safety Award went to Ava Adams – Cumberland County. Ava gave a Horse Safety presentation to a Boy Scout Troop preparing for a trip where they would be spending three days on horseback. Ava provided the troop with a hands-on horse experience and a horse safety booklet to keep for reference.

The 24th Annual State 4-H Model Horse Show was held on Saturday of the show. The Model Horse Show provides a means for youth to learn and perfect the hobby of collecting and showing model horses, while also learning about horse breeds, history, tack, equipment, and related horse information. The model show is an opportunity for youth that may not be able to own and show live horses to participate in the show and learn more about the horse industry.

In its sixth year, the State 4-H Horse Show Photography Contest provides youth the opportunity to exhibit their photography and encourages all members to participate in the State Horse Show through a variety of activities. This year, over 50 participants from 15 counties submitted photos in three categories: Animal, Landscape, and Other at either the Junior or Senior level, based on 4-H age. The winners for the contest were: Jr. Landscape: Emily Moffat; Sr. Landscape; Phaedra Bower; Jr. Other: Clara Anthony; Sr. Other: Taylor Fry; Jr. Animal: Peyton Smoker; and Sr. Animal: Phaedra Bower.

Equine skillathon contests opportunities were available for youth again this year and scholarships were generously donated by the PA Paint Horse Club for places 1-3 in each age division. Over 50 youth from 15 different counties put their equine science knowledge to the test. In the Junior Division, Champion – Jazz Sapp, Chester County and Reserve – Ashlynn Kimmy, Erie County and third place – Parker Brown, Wayne County. For the Senior Division, Champion – Audrey Ibach, Chester County and Reserve – Emily Snippert, Erie County and third place – Serina Bennett, Elk County.

Berks County’s presence at the 2023 Pennsylvania State 4-H Horse Show:

Ten Berks County 4-H members competed in the state horse show, with Jessica Fox (from Sellersville, PA) winning the Western Grooming and Showmanship, ages 12-14 class. Another Berks County 4-H member, Ava Fedak (from Pottstown, PA) was recognized for completing her Horsemanship Skills Levels 3 and 4.

There are several thousand 4-H horse projects involving youth throughout Pennsylvania. Programs are designed to develop life skills in youth and knowledge of horse production, use and management.

For additional information on 4-H horse programs in Pennsylvania, contact your county Penn State Cooperative Extension office at or visit the Pennsylvania 4-H Horse Program web site at

Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Penn State Extension 4-H youth development educators in all 67 counties throughout the commonwealth administer local 4-H programs through non-formal education and outreach. To find your local program, visit the Penn State Extension website at

We need your support!

Your contribution makes community media possible.

A donation of any size to your nonprofit media organization supports the future of media access in our community - the things you love, and the places you care about, by the people you know.

Live Streaming