WOOSTER, Ohio — It’s always nice to end your 4-H career on a high note, and one equine exhibitor from Ohio’s Wayne County has certainly done so.
Andrea Hershey, 18, achieved her highest honor in June at the Pinto World Show in Tulsa, Okla. The Wooster resident won world champion with her pinto horse named Fergie.
Although she’s won other honors over the years, and has showed at the local county fair and neighboring states, “this is definitely a lot more memorable,” she said. “It’s something I always wanted to be able to do. … I’ve put a lot effort into it, we all have.”
Hershey’s winning effort was made possible with support from her parents, Dave and Lori Herhsey, as well as her trainers, Steve and Ty Sauder. Hershey’s mother also is her adviser, a special combination.
“Advising Andrea has been fun and then again sometimes not so much,” said Lori Hershey. “As in all things, with your own child, sometimes it is best to solicit outside help and that is something that I highly recommend.”
Lori helped with the scheduling and entries, but said she left the expertise part of the project to the trainers. Over the years, she’s seen the project evolve from a focus on fun and friends, to a focus that’s still on fun, but also being competitive.
“Today it’s about getting the best out of her horse — the best ride, the best pattern,” Lori said. “It’s not so much about the win, but it doesn’t hurt. The win validates the time and effort that is put forth, but in the end it’s about loving her horse and having fun with her friends.”
Andrea said 4-H and horses have helped her make new friends and become more social. Her advice to youngsters considering 4-H is to “definitely go for it. It’s worth it and they’re going to have a lot of fun making new friends.”
Winning the world show was no easy feat. There were about 26 competitors in the class, and it took countless hours of daily practice to be prepared.
Contestants are required to ride around a trial, walk and trot and are judged on how well the horse performs each task. As a world winner, Hershey boasts a large, colorful belt buckle by Gist Silversmiths.
She received the McComb Family 4-H scholarship and plans to study accounting this fall at Ohio State University.
With 4-H mostly behind her, Andrea still plans to continue showing as an amateur. Looking back, she’s very appreciative of her trainers and everything they’ve done for her over the years.
“I definitely want to give credit to my trainers,” she said. “They’ve always helped me along the way.”
The biggest lesson 4-H has taught her? “To be thankful for everything I have.”