Ollie Hill receives national 4-H award for game bolstering horse sense | TSLN.com
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Ollie Hill receives national 4-H award for game bolstering horse sense

An educational game for kids has received for a Laramie man the National Communicator Award for Educational Package from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

4-H’ers have their horse skills critiqued in the arena and their equine knowledge tested with age-appropriate questions when playing the Kid’s Arena Horse Play game created by Oliver “Ollie” Hill.

“I’ve always been interested in helping kids and adults and that’s been the course of my career,” said Hill, a retired extension educator who worked in Colorado and Wyoming and was a member of the Wyoming State 4-H Office. He retired in 1996.



“We did a little of this kind of thing, not exactly the same, at 4-H horse camps many years ago,” said Hill. “It makes a fun and different learning experience for the kids. A lot of volunteer leaders do the same old same old arena work while working with the kids. This just gives them a new, fresh approach to help the kids learn both skills and knowledge.”

Hill said involvement – by parents and older youth helping the younger 4-H’ers – is a key to the game. It was test-driven in Albany County (WY) with Cath Harris and 4-H educator Mary Louise Woods’ involvement with 4-H’ers during its development and critiqued by reviewers in Wyoming and Colorado. It is produced through Hill’s company, High Country Horse, LLC.



“I think it is effective – mostly because the questions with answers are already prepared – all you need to do is read the question,” said Cath Harris, Albany County horse leader and county fair superintendent. Her club helped test ride the game. “It is a win/win learning situation – the parents are used in the different stations – they are also learning. A perfect fit for 4-H.”

A laminate sheet is posted at the arena entrance that shows a circular route. A skill to be judged is posted at up to six stations. A volunteer judge critiques the riding skills at each station and asks a question. If the answer is correct, the rider advances to the next station and skill. If wrong, the rider goes to the jail station and is asked another question. The 4-H’er then returns to the start of the circuit. 4-H’ers successfully completing the circuit receive Sheriff stickers, those who get part way through receive a Deputy badge, and those sent to jail receive a Jail Bird sticker. Use of the stickers is optional but fun for the kids, said Hill.

There are almost 400 questions for beginning 4-H’ers up to 10 years of age, for intermediate riders ages 11-13, and advanced riders ages 14 and up. Questions quiz riders on English and Western riding knowledge and on equine health and nutrition. The questions are coded so clubs can concentrate on specific subjects, such as health one session and nutrition the next, and other topics.

“The game augments in-classroom instruction you would get in some of the equine classes/horse judging competitions and upper level college classes – yes, there are some tough questions,” said Harris. “The questions touch on the horse parts and the general-to-specific knowledge around horses. The younger age group questions are easy. When you get to senior questions, they can be rather difficult.”

Harris added the most difficult part is finding enough parents to man each station to ask the questions.

The game’s inception to production took about four years, Hill said.

“I feel good with what we came out with, but it was a real challenge to finally get it narrowed down and focused on the skills and knowledge learning about horses,” said Hill. For more information, see http://www.highcountryhorse.net or call 307-745-4553.

An educational game for kids has received for a Laramie man the National Communicator Award for Educational Package from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents.

4-H’ers have their horse skills critiqued in the arena and their equine knowledge tested with age-appropriate questions when playing the Kid’s Arena Horse Play game created by Oliver “Ollie” Hill.

“I’ve always been interested in helping kids and adults and that’s been the course of my career,” said Hill, a retired extension educator who worked in Colorado and Wyoming and was a member of the Wyoming State 4-H Office. He retired in 1996.

“We did a little of this kind of thing, not exactly the same, at 4-H horse camps many years ago,” said Hill. “It makes a fun and different learning experience for the kids. A lot of volunteer leaders do the same old same old arena work while working with the kids. This just gives them a new, fresh approach to help the kids learn both skills and knowledge.”

Hill said involvement – by parents and older youth helping the younger 4-H’ers – is a key to the game. It was test-driven in Albany County (WY) with Cath Harris and 4-H educator Mary Louise Woods’ involvement with 4-H’ers during its development and critiqued by reviewers in Wyoming and Colorado. It is produced through Hill’s company, High Country Horse, LLC.

“I think it is effective – mostly because the questions with answers are already prepared – all you need to do is read the question,” said Cath Harris, Albany County horse leader and county fair superintendent. Her club helped test ride the game. “It is a win/win learning situation – the parents are used in the different stations – they are also learning. A perfect fit for 4-H.”

A laminate sheet is posted at the arena entrance that shows a circular route. A skill to be judged is posted at up to six stations. A volunteer judge critiques the riding skills at each station and asks a question. If the answer is correct, the rider advances to the next station and skill. If wrong, the rider goes to the jail station and is asked another question. The 4-H’er then returns to the start of the circuit. 4-H’ers successfully completing the circuit receive Sheriff stickers, those who get part way through receive a Deputy badge, and those sent to jail receive a Jail Bird sticker. Use of the stickers is optional but fun for the kids, said Hill.

There are almost 400 questions for beginning 4-H’ers up to 10 years of age, for intermediate riders ages 11-13, and advanced riders ages 14 and up. Questions quiz riders on English and Western riding knowledge and on equine health and nutrition. The questions are coded so clubs can concentrate on specific subjects, such as health one session and nutrition the next, and other topics.

“The game augments in-classroom instruction you would get in some of the equine classes/horse judging competitions and upper level college classes – yes, there are some tough questions,” said Harris. “The questions touch on the horse parts and the general-to-specific knowledge around horses. The younger age group questions are easy. When you get to senior questions, they can be rather difficult.”

Harris added the most difficult part is finding enough parents to man each station to ask the questions.

The game’s inception to production took about four years, Hill said.

“I feel good with what we came out with, but it was a real challenge to finally get it narrowed down and focused on the skills and knowledge learning about horses,” said Hill. For more information, see http://www.highcountryhorse.net or call 307-745-4553.


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