Association puts dream horses within reach of worthy 4-H competitors

Abby Bennett from Morgan County appears with the quarter horse she won from the IQHA. Rachel Brammer/ BSU Journalism at the Fair
Published: .
Updated: .
Backstage of the Youth Arena at the Indiana State Fair, Brienne Copeland and her 4-year-old American quarter horse Bob Barann Bob share a quiet moment before the champion reserve gelding competition begins.

When their turn comes, Brienne will guide Bob around the waiting white cones and then carefully line him up next to the tall metal gates surrounding the arena. For the halter competition, the closest thing horses have to a beauty pageant, judges will examine Bob's musculature, head size and body shape among other things.

Three years ago, Britt Copeland, Brienne's older brother, received Bob as an award from the Indiana Quarter Horse Association, part of an annual competition that provides one deserving 4-H horse and pony member with the opportunity to own and train a registered quarter horse worth about $5,000.

This scholarship promotes the continuation of the quarter horse breed as well as gives a quality horse to a 4-H competitor who would otherwise struggle to afford it.

Bob the horse

Although Britt owns three other horses, Bob's documentation and physical appearance elevate him beyond just another loyal animal companion and allow him to actually be successful in 4-H competitions.

“Bob's smarter. He's more to work with,” Britt says. “It's a better opportunity.”

Bob's characteristics shine the most in halter competitions, where the traditional physical appearance of quarter horses reigns supreme.

When it comes time to decide between showing Sidonie, one of Britt's other horses, and Bob, Britt doesn't have to debate for very long.

“Sidonie wouldn't do as good at halter even if I pumped her on ‘roids and worked her as hard as I could,” he said. “There's just nothing you can do with an ugly horse.”

Bob's desirable wide chest and stocky figure do come at a hefty price. To be a registered quarter horse, bloodlines have to be pure and prestigious.

Bob's father, Execute A Score, boasts his own website and Facebook page. His light brown mane has appeared on horse magazines around the world. Britt estimates that a tube of Execute's sperm could garner around $10,000.

The past winner

Ginny Tauer, the coordinator of the award since 2010, finds different donors each year to provide the quality horses presented by the IQHA.

Tauer, a former award winner herself, knows the life-altering process receiving an IQHA-sanctioned horse can set into motion.

“I had a horse that I had been showing, but he was getting old and he had some issues that we weren't going to be able to fix,” she says.

She won her quarter horse in 1992, and a string of visits to the state fair followed. Tauer even paid for her college education with funds raised from selling her IQHA horse.

Twenty to 70 Indiana 4-H hopefuls apply each year, but Tauer and her parents select only 10 to attend the state fair for a day of interviewing.

This year, Tauer compiled a panel of judges of IQHA officials and horse enthusiasts. She hopes with their combined expertise, a deserving and responsible applicant will win.

The victor

On Aug. 4, the day Pretty Boy Floyd, this year's prize quarter horse, met his new owner, Tauer led the 10 finalists to the second floor of the Home and Family Arts Building.

Among them stood Abby Bennett, a junior from Morgan County who has participated in 4-H for seven years.

She already owns two quarter horses but lacks one with the proper registration. Without this crucial documentation, her goal of competing in the American Quarter Horse Association's World Champion Show cannot be realized.

Later in the day, the announcement of the winner took place on the same dirt field where Bob competed earlier in the day. Chairs full of finalists replaced the white cones and all horses but Pretty Boy Floyd had deserted the area.

Raymie Schoop received first runner up as well as a belt buckle, but the promise of the final prize still lingered.

The final name, the winner's, belongs to Bennett, the ambitious, 16-year-old World hopeful. She took Pretty Boy Floyd's reigns and smiled widely.

“My mind was blank, my heart was pounding,” she said afterwards. “I was throbbing, it was pounding so hard.”

A parade of volunteers, donors and IQHA officials stepped up to the still shell-shocked Bennett, offering their hands and congratulations.

During the following photo shoot, Tauer smiled at this latest 4-H winner and prize similar to the one she received 22 years ago.

“He really is a lovely horse,” she said.

Danielle Grady is a writer for BSU Journalism at the Fair, a Ball State University immersive-learning project placing 25 student journalists at the heart of the Midway to tell the weird and wonderful stories of the 2014 Indiana State Fair.