Brown County 4-H members win Western National Roundup Horse Quiz Bowl |

Brown County 4-H members win Western National Roundup Horse Quiz Bowl

Brown County 4-H members who won the Western National Roundup Horse Quiz Bowl Competition. From left to right: Trey Wright, Cassandra Townsend, Coach Kristen Gonsoir, Marissa Woodring, Adrianna Schaunaman. Photo by Western National Roundup.
Adam Warren |

The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo (NWSS) in Denver, Colo., brings hundreds of cattlemen and ranch life enthusiasts to the Rockies each year. With daily shows, sales, rodeos and entertainment, it’s the highlight of the year for many in the agricultural community.

For 4-H members, showing livestock, competing in judging contests and even answering tough trivia questions are another exciting part of the NWSS. For one South Dakota team, clinching a championship was just the icing on the cake.

South Dakota 4-H members from Brown County recently won the Western National Roundup Horse Quiz Bowl Competition, held in conjunction with the NWSS on January 5-8, 2017.

Edging out eight other teams, Brown County 4-H members earned the top spot in the competition, answering equine questions that they had been studying for months. Team members include: Trey Wright, son of Janet and Russel Wright and a senior at Groton Area High School; Marissa Woodring, daughter of Rebecca and Steve Woodring and a freshman at Ridgewater College in Wilmar, Minn.; Cassandra Townsend, daughter of Kellie and Dean Townsend and sophomore at Groton Area High School; and Adrianne Schaunaman, daughter of Mysty and Chad Schaunaman and senior at Aberdeen Central High School.

“Practices were filled with fun and learning as the youth would continually ask questions we would look into even deeper. They worked together as a team so well, earning multiple team participation bonuses, which really helped them become champions.” Kristen Gonsoir, volunteer Quiz Bowl coach

Additionally, three team members placed in the top 10 individually including: Marissa Woodring, seventh; Cassandra Townsend, eighth and Trey Wright, tenth.

“The skills these youth develop go much deeper than just a vast understanding of equine anatomy and physiology, animal husbandry, horse show rules, equine nutrition and breed industry standards,” said Kristen Gonsoir, volunteer coach and high school science teacher. “Youth also gain skills in team work, leadership, public speaking and organization. It was also exciting to see how the youth’s self-confidence grew as we practiced in preparation for nationals.”

Gonsoir leaned on her experiences as an American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) professional horseman and horse show judge to help coach the team to victory.

“I’ve been a volunteer 4-H coach and leader since 1989,” said Gonsoir. “I love teaching and learning, working with youth, and horses. With this team specifically, the Brown County 4-H Horse committee asked me if I would coach them at the state contest. I have also worked with all of the team members outside of the quiz bowl, either at school or with other 4-H events.”

“Kristen has been active on the South Dakota 4-H Horse Show Committee for several years,” said John Keimig, SDSU Extension 4-H associate. “She has also coached the Brown County Hippology team in the past.”

The Horse Quiz Bowl competition is set up like the ultimate game of jeopardy, says Gonsoir. In addition to studying at home, the team practiced once a week from October through December to prepare for the national contest.

“Practices were filled with fun and learning as the youth would continually ask questions we would look into even deeper,” said Gonsoir. “They worked together as a team so well, earning multiple team participation bonuses, which really helped them become champions.”

Answering “fill-in-the-blank” and “short-answer” questions, the team had to quickly recall equine information they had learned from practices in order to secure the championship. Examples of questions include: What is the name of the condition characterized by degeneration of the navicular bone and inflammation of the bursa and the neighboring deep flexor tendon? At what age will the Galvaynes groove extend the entire length of the corner incisor? In the reining class all horses begin with a score of what value?

“Horses have always fascinated me,” said Townsend, the youngest member of the team. “I have been riding horses since I was six years old, and I started showing when I was eight. Currently, I show reining horses and an all-around horse. I have had the privilege of working with many people to expand my knowledge about horses. I would love to go into equine sports medicine. I believe this experience has helped gain tons of knowledge about horses, such as breed information and vital signs. This is the type of information I will need to know if I want to pursue a career in equine sports medicine.

For Marissa Woodring, competing in the Horse Quiz Bowl is her way to learn more about the horses she loves.

“I started horse judging and riding in 4-H when I was eight years old,” said Woodring. “As I got older, I got more involved with the Hippology and Quiz bowl. As a current freshman in college, I’m working towards my career goal of being a veterinary technician. This experience has helped me by improving my communication skills and by enhancing my knowledge of the horse.”

Although he has his sights on a career as a mechanical engineer, team member Trey Wright will always have a passion for horses.

“I have been raised around horses that are used for ranch work and for rodeos,” he said. “I plan to continue my education at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and I feel my cooperation with my teammates has helped me advance my leadership skills and ability to work with those around me. This was an overall rewarding experience that has shown me that working hard for something can come with great rewards.

Looking back on the questions asked, Townsend, Woodring and Wright agree that some questions were easier than others to answer, but their endless studying paid off.

“I think the easiest question I was asked was what type of special shoes do reining horses wear on their back feet,” recalled Townsend. “I found this question to be easy because I work with reining horses almost every day. The hardest questions for me were the specific questions, such as questions about a certain disease.”

“Throughout the competition a lot of the questions weren’t necessarily hard, but they had multiple answers to them,” added Woodring. “One of these multi-answer questions was how to treat tetanus. The three part answer was to clean the wound, administer antibiotics, and give muscle relaxants. Other simpler questions I received was how the equine digestive system differed from other animals. The answer to this was that the horse is a hind-gut fermenter, meaning they digest in the cecum rather than the stomach, or non-ruminant.”

“For me, the easiest question asked about what the mythical creature that is a horse with a horn is,” said Wright. “The other team must have thought it was an easy question, as well, because they buzzed in extremely fast. The harder questions were related to the hormones of the horse.”

Students interested in getting involved in 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl competitions should contact their local Extension office.