Botetourt teen to compete with state 4-H Hippology team

Rachel Buchanan

A Botetourt County teen has made the Virginia State Hippology Team and will travel with her teammates from across the commonwealth to Perry, Georgia, to compete at the Southern Regionals.

Rachel Buchanan, a rising sophomore at James River High School, qualified in her first year of eligibility at the senior level — despite having no coaches or a local Hippology team to help her prepare.

Buchanan has been a 4-H member since kindergarten. She competed for several years with former Botetourt County Hippology and Horse Judging coaches Cindy Bandy, Rachel Witt and Dr. Charlotte Dietz before that team dissolved.

Outside of 4-H, Rachel shows in hunter/jumper competitions and volunteers at Botetourt County Horseman’s Association events along with her family.

Travel costs for each team is steep, and 4-H has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help offset costs of the state team’s travel. Going to the Georgia event will cost about $660. If the team wins, they will compete at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in October in preparation for the Eastern Nationals in Kentucky later in the fall. The Virginia team was reserve champions at last year’s Nationals.

The crowdfunding campaign ends June 16. Please click here to contribute.


Minimum Costs for Teams

Southern Regionals – Perry, Georgia

  • $160/team – Entry Fees
  • $100/hotel room – minimum 3 nights = $300
  • $200 travel/meals = $200

Total = $660/team

All American Quarter Horse Congress – Columbus, Ohio

  • $200/team – Entry Fees
  • $150/hotel room – minimum 3 nights = $450
  • $500 – travel/meals = $500

Total = $1,150/team

Eastern National 4-H Horse Round Up – Louisville, Kentucky

  • $300/team – Entry Fees
  • $175/hotel room – minimum 2 nights = $350
  • $300 – misc fees (food, travel, supplies) = $300

Total = $950/team

Total MINIMUM cost to send all educational teams to regional and national contests = $20,520

*does not include practice sessions throughout the year or coaches travel

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin CocoChip repeat Virginia 4-H Western Pleasure Classic win

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip (front)

There’s something inspiring about the Virginia State 4-H Championship Horse Show that’s held every September at the Virginia Horse Center.

Not every truck and trailer you see parked in the lot is brand new, although many are. Not every saddle is covered in silver or every show shirt perfectly tailored and covered in sparkling jewels, although many are. But the atmosphere is every bit as electric as the biggest shows, maybe even more so.

Parents stand on the rail more nervous than if they were showing, muttering instructions and tips even though their children are at the other end of the arena and couldn’t possibly hear. Horses are lovingly prepared to enter what for many will be the biggest show of the year, if not their careers, to make memories that may last the rest of the exhibitors’ lives.

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin CocoChip placed first and second under the two judges in Horsemanship, taking home the overall championship.

Morgan Strickler of Frederick County is one such exhibitor who is bound to always have great memories of her rides at the 4-H State Championship Show. She was returning to the championship show after winning the Western Pleasure Classic last year on her Appaloosa Ima Glowin CocoChip. Sunday morning, the defending champion made it two in a row. First Morgan won the Horsemanship title in a split judge’s decision (Gillian Davis riding VS Red Solo was first under the second judge), and then she took the Western Pleasure Horse Classic in a unanimous decision. Julia Marie Haney of Prince William County and The Kyrmsun Cowboy were Reserve in the Western Pleasure Horse Classic.




Photos from the Virginia 4-H Championship Horse Show available for purchase are being uploaded now at
Digital copies and print versions are available.


The Classics, which require a qualifying ride in a previous class during the show, are simply a cap to what is a busy weekend at the horse center. The show begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday. The winners of the various class divisions then come back at the end of the show for the “Classic” classes… the best of the best enter the ring to vie for the class title. This year, the Hunter Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat Equitation and Horsemanship Classics were held in the East Complex on Sunday morning. But other Classics are held also on both Saturday and Sunday.

Emily Michelle Strom of Henrico County and her gray Arabian KK Dream Catcher

Emily Michelle Strom of Henrico County and her gray Arabian KK Dream Catcher won the Western Pleasure Pony Classic.

In the Hunt Seat Equitation Classic, Holly Kate Longest of James City rode Playing Hooky to victory. Holly was part of a four-horse work-off the required the exhibitors to show at a walk, rising trot, sitting trot and canter without their irons. Reserve went to Marissa Jones of Loudoun on Above the Clouds.

There’s a balance here between everyone getting a shot and the top riders achieving the giant trophy. And the trophies really are enormous — one Classic trophy required two people to carry it into the arena. Disciplines offered are as varied as the ponies. Western, Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, Dressage, Speed, Reining and even Side Saddle are represented.

What the 4-H State Show has that many other shows seem to lack is a fabulous sense of community. Counties band together, decorate their stalls to a common theme and everyone seems to have their own cheering section when the results came in after each class. There’s a lot that professionals could learn from the youth in that arena.

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Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip win Virginia 4-H Western Pleasure Classic

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip

On Sept. 17, the Virginia 4-H State Horse Show crowned its top Western riders in the Classics classics. The evening classes were held in the East Complex at the Virginia Horse Center and featured the top riders from the qualifying classes earlier in the weekend.

The Classics closed with the Western Pleasure Horse Classic. With 14 showing, the two judges agreed on the top horse: Ima Glowin Coco Chip, ridden by Morgan Strickler. Strickler was also named the Sr. High Point winner.

Second went to Mary Ann Johnson riding Zippos Sweet Te. Third went to Madison Martin riding Jets Lopin Lady.