Four Berthoud students compete in dog training/agility at Colorado 4-H State Fair

Courtesy photo – Turner Middle School student Emma Harris, left, and her dog, Ginger, an Australian cattle dog, and Berthoud High School students MacKenzie Harris, Emma’s sister, with Teddy, a Labrador retriever, Kaylee Brown with Koda, a border collie, and Kathryn Worrell with Rocky, a mixed breed, competed in the Colorado 4-H State Fair for dog training/agility and placed first Aug. 25 in the team rally event.

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Four middle- and high-school girls from Berthoud placed first in the team rally event at the 4-H Colorado 4-H State Fair in Pueblo.

“All of the girls compete against each other, so it was really fun to see them working together and celebrating their win as a team,” said Susan Kamm-Worrell, mother of one of the girls, Kathryn Worrell, 17, a 12th grader at Berthoud High School (BHS).

The girls are Turner Middle School student Emma Harris with her dog, Ginger, an Australian cattle dog, and BHS students Kaylee Brown with Koda, a border collie, MacKenzie Harris with Teddy, a Labrador retriever, and Kathryn with Rocky, a mixed breed.

The four girls qualified for state by placing as the top four winners at the rally event at the Larimer County Fair 4-H Dog Obedience and Rally Show in March. Emma, MacKenzie and Kaylee are part of the Wind Dancers 4-H Club in Loveland, and Kathryn is part of the Sagebrush Riders 4-H Club in Berthoud.

“In past years Kathryn and Rocky have competed in team rallies with other kids and dogs from Larimer County, but … what was really exciting was to have a team of all Berthoud kids. It was really fun everyone was from Berthoud and we all knew each other,” Kamm-Worrell said.

In the county and state rally events, 4-H members demonstrate the level of dog training and the teamwork between handler and dog in a timed event as they navigate a course side-by-side. The handler steers the leashed dog through the course of 14 different signs that provide instructions on the next skill to be performed. With a team rally event, teams of four handlers and dogs maneuver the course individually while the team time runs simultaneously.

Kaylee served as the anchor leg for the Berthoud team, moving in the final position as the team’s strongest competitor with perfect scores on her individual competitions. The team earned 397 out of 400 possible points, finishing in 6 minutes, 21 seconds.

“They were almost perfect,” Kamm-Worrell said. “I thought most of them competed better as a team than individually, so they had very high scores.”

Kaylee and the other girls also showed individually in the 4-H State Fair rally events. Kaylee and Koda, 2, won grand champion in the Intermediate Rally Classes in
Rally Advanced B. MacKenzie and Teddy placed fourth and Emma and Ginger, sixth. Kathryn and Rocky won grand champion in the Rally Excellent Classes, the second from the highest level with the course signs pointing out more complicated maneuvers in a harder competition.

In the other 4-H State Fair dog trial events, Kaylee and Koda won grand champion
in the Novice Obedience Classes demonstrating obedience, and Emma and Ginger placed seventh in Intermediate Open Showmanship, where the dog trots alongside the handler to show off the dog to the best advantage.

“The kids have to be dressed up, too, because they were doing showmanship. You’re like a professional dog handler,” said Kamm-Worrell. “Not only is the dog dressed up, the person is dressed up, too. … You want to show the dog the best you can.”

Kathryn began working with Rocky seven years ago when she was in the sixth grade. She learned responsibility in caring for Rocky and the cost associated with a pet, since she was required to keep a record book of her expenses. Kathryn trained Rocky both at home and in Wellington once a week with 4-H volunteer Denise Preuit to practice the higher levels of obedience, rally and showmanship.

“By having an animal as a 4-H project for several years, she can continue to train him through the various levels of 4-H,” Kamm-Worrell said. “The hardest obstacle is when the dog must go off leash in obedience, rally or agility, since the dogs have a limited number of years when they can be shown on leash.”

Kathryn and Kaylee learned leadership skills by helping to train younger 4-H members in the dog project at the weekly county fair workshops in the spring and summer months. Kathryn also participated in the leadership project this year, serving as
the chair of the bylaw committee for her club and helping the dog members in the club with their demonstrations, records books and basic dog obedience training. She placed as champion in her leadership project at both the county and state fair.

“Kathryn has put in a lot of hours over the years training Rocky, so it’s gratifying as a parent to see them do well at state fair,” Kamm-Worrell said.

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