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Staff Writer

PEPPERELL — The 4-H Pepperell Trailblazers are embarked upon another active year of accomplishment in their youth horse club, building on last year’s receipt of first place in the 4-H Community Outreach Program.

The Trailblazers were involved in several community service events that showcased youth benefits of 4-H membership. It was the second year in a row the club has received the award.

In addition, their 4-H leader, five-year veteran Suzanne Ferris, was honored by Middlesex County 4-H as Outstanding Leader of the Year.

“The kids keep me inspired with their energy and desire to learn,” Ferris said, “it feels good to be helping so many of them with life skills that will benefit them as adults.”

The 4-H Pepperell program includes horsemanship and horse care as well as public speaking, leadership and community service.

With the help of a Cumberland Farms “Youth in Action” grant, the Trailblazers community service project “4-H Safe Roadways for Equine and Autos” last summer was a success. Members were seen throughout the area passing out fliers and giving horse riders their own “stop” and “slow” signs to communicate with motorists on roadways shared by horses and cars.

The tool was the idea of senior 4-H member Christa Guild as a way to quickly communicate with drivers to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries between horses and cars.

Several members competed in the Middlesex County Horse Show series and the annual 4-H Fair in Westford, earning them the Reserve Average Point Championship as well as the Walk/Trot Championship when the three-day fair ended.

More members were honored at the 4-H Horse Advisory Council’s year-end banquet.

At last year’s Middlesex County Horse Show series, which took place throughout the fair-weather months, Jessica Ferris came away with the Gymkhana and the Junior Western Championships, Jessica Aubin won the Reserve Gymkhana Championship, and Cait MacDonald won the Reserve Beginning Canter Championship.

Samantha Yarbrough placed second in the senior division, Jessica Ferris came in fifth and Abby Bradbury took seventh place in the junior division of the Middlesex County Horse Judging contest in October.

That county-wide event encourages 4-H members to look at their horse’s conformation — the way they are put together — and evaluate them against a class of similar horses. Members then present their reasoning orally before a judge.

Cait MacDonald placed third in Hippology and fourth in Horse Bowl at the Middlesex County Horse Knowledge event, qualifying them for last April’s state competition.

Ferris said the cold winter months did not affect Trailblazer interest. They prepared a visual presentation program entry covering topics ranging from animal science to technology, to be judged this spring, that could qualify them for state competition.

Now that the warm weather is here for good, the club is back to training and practicing with their horses for competitions. They’ll be at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield in September, but before then look for them at Cumberland Farms stores. The company is again supporting them in their 2008 safety project.

To learn more about 4-H, see www.mass4H.org or contact info@4Hpepperelltrailblazers.org.

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