MURRIETA — Julia Rey is 11 years old and just won the title of Reserve Champion. Julia competes in 4-H in a division designated for 9-13 year olds, with the smile from her win still stretched across her face she is already preparing to defend her title.
4-H is a program for the youth that focuses on the principle of “learn by doing.” Rey explained 4-H as, “You basically have to learn to do everything by yourself, so you feed your horse by yourself, you clean their stall by yourself, groom your horse and all that stuff, by yourself.”
Julia and her mom, Rachel, have become a team. When Rey started 4-H five years ago, there was no Templeton horse project, if children wanted to participate in 4-H they had to show or teach obedience to either goats, dogs or pigs. Julia explained how Templeton was finally able to bring horses to their 4-H group.
“My Mom is the 4-H horse leader, my Templeton 4-H did not have a horse group so we were always talking about maybe we could start a horse group togethera, and so my mom started a horse group along with Diane, who is the other leader.”
Through her success, Rey has been promoted to a junior leader. As a leader, it is now Rey’s responsibility to help teach the younger kids. That is the beauty of 4-H, as a young
kid, you are brought into the program and learn from your peers. The kids grow closer together as they learn how to take care of their animals, and as they grow older their roles transform. Those who used to be taught will become teachers. In this system, each teacher has already been a student, as the saying goes, they’ve already walked a mile in their shoes.
“When you are a junior leader you help other kids learn how to do everything,” Rey said, “you teach them how to groom their horses, and teach them the patterns on the ground…”
“A little horse trainer” Rey’s mother interjected.
This was Rey’s first year as a junior leader, and the first time she attended the 4-H Horse Classic.
“It was the first big show she has been too where she didn’t have a trainer there to help her and she had to do everything on her own to get ready.” Rey’s mother stated.
Rey left the 4-H Classic as Reserve Champion, and is already defending her title. The Mid- State Fair acts as a qualifying show for the Classic, and she is already prepared to qualify again. While Rey is a Reserve Champion with her horse, she hasn’t strayed away from her other animals either. This year at the fair she will be showing a pig, a dog and a horse and will look to win in each!