The 2013 Missouri 4-H Equine Tour will be held May 21-27. Applications are now available for 4-H members ages 13-18.
The tours started in 2006 when University of Missouri Extension 4-H specialists Carol Parmenter and Debbie Davis were searching for a way to help 4-H members interested in horses learn more about the equine world.
“The tour gives members a practical and realistic view of the horse industry,” Davis said. “It shows them what is possible and ways they can turn their passion into a career.”
This year’s tour will be through Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and includes stops at equine collegiate programs, performance horse ranches, the Remington Park racing track, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the offices of Western Horseman magazine, and the Fort Worth Stockyards.
The tours explore the horse industry in different regions of the country on a four-year rotation. Other regions covered in different years are Kentucky, Missouri and Colorado/Wyoming/Nebraska.
Sonja Perry, an MU freshman from Bowling Green, Mo., participated in the tour four times, exploring all the regions. She learned about the program when she was in seventh grade and decided to go for it, a decision that has changed her life.
“My entire perspective of what I wanted to do as a career and how to do it completely changed,” Perry said.
Part of the experience that stood out to Perry was the opportunity to visit universities with well-known equine and veterinary programs and see some of the educational opportunities that were available. She is now majoring in animal science in the pre-veterinary program in MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Breanne Brammer, a junior at MU from Gallatin, Mo., also participated in the tour four times. She says it allowed her to see other parts of the country and the horse industry in those regions.
“I found out that I have a passion for Kentucky and the thoroughbred industry,” Brammer said. “Without the equine tour I would never have been exposed to that.”
Brammer also says the tour dramatically changed her career choices.
“I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but through the equine tour I learned that wasn’t my strength, but I could still be part of the equine industry through different avenues,” Brammer said. “I’m a science and agricultural journalism major and have aspirations to go to law school and work in equine law in Kentucky.”
Both Perry and Brammer urge 4-H members to consider participating in the tour.
“It’s absolutely the best experience I ever had in 4-H, hands down,” Perry said. “It allowed me to come away each time with a new perspective and a new idea of what exactly I wanted to do with my life.”
The $550 tour fee includes most meals, hotels, transportation on a chartered bus, admission fees, and tour shirts and bags. The deadline for application is March 1. To apply, go to mo4h.missouri.edu/events/horse. For more information, contact Debbie Davis at 816-539-3765 or firstname.lastname@example.org.