Virus or no virus, Sawyer Cofield wasn’t going to let anything stop her from meeting a goal she set last year.
After the state 4-H horse show and horse-judging competition were canceled this year, the Bartow County 4-H member found another show with a 4-H division — the Georgia Quarter Horse Association’s Level 1 (Novice) Show Series May 30 and July 25-26 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.
The 16-year-old equestrian and her horse, Lucy, came very close to a clean sweep of the 4-H classes, including taking home the prize she set out to win — a saddle.
“I wanted to show at this saddle series because winning a saddle has been a long-term goal of mine,” said the daughter of Gregg and Shannon Cofield of Cartersville. “I’m most proud of the saddle because it reflects the work I’ve done to win it.”
Mrs. Cofield said she “couldn’t be more proud of Sawyer and Lucy,” whose registered name is She’s Got Zip.
“I remember the day Blake Carney, Sawyer’s trainer, at Carney Performance Horses asked her what she wanted to achieve and how he could help her get there,” she said. “Sawyer’s top priority was to compete for a saddle. Since that day late last year, Sawyer, Lucy and Blake have focused on being the best they could be in the pen. Sawyer has ridden three days per week and taken a lesson every week since they set this goal.”
4-H agent Allison Perkins said she, too, “couldn’t be more happy or prouder of Sawyer and Lucy’s accomplishments.”
“Sawyer has been working and training her horse at home and under the guidance and assistance of Blake Carney,” she said. “To work with your horse at home takes commitment and skill of the exhibitor. With the guidance of Blake, she was able to have a successful show season.”
During the series of three horse shows, Sawyer and her Paint Bay participated in six of the eight 4-H classes at each show for a total of 18 classes.
“Each day, awards were given for Daily High Point, which Sawyer received in the 4-H division at all three shows,” Perkins said. “At the last show, Series Champions were awarded for each class — belt buckles. Sawyer and Lucy were Series Champions in 4-H Showmanship, 4-H Hunter Under Saddle, 4-H Equitation, 4-H Trail and 4-H Western Pleasure – five of the six classes in the 4-H division. The Series High Point award was a saddle, which Sawyer won in the 4-H division.”
The young equestrian, who attends Woodland High School and the Bartow County College and Career Academy, said it “felt amazing hearing my name called for first place” for the series.
“I couldn’t have done it without all the love and support from my family and friends at Carney Performance Horses,” she said.
Perkins said she thinks it’s “wonderful that GQHA is supportive of 4-H and offers 4-H classes during their shows.”
“This was really exciting,” she said. “I have not had a 4-H’er achieve this level of success in association shows in their 4-H classes.”
Two other aspects of the competition made the victory even sweeter for the Cofields.
“This accomplishment is extra-special because Lucy is 20 years old, and we plan to retire her after our championship show in Perry, Georgia, on Labor Day weekend,” Mrs. Cofield said. “It’s also neat to win the 4-H class because both our daughters [Sawyer and Greer] have benefited from Bartow County 4-H, and we believe in what 4-H represents.”
Sawyer, who rides daily or every other day to “ensure that my horses and I can perform to the best of our ability,” said her favorite show class is also her toughest — trail.
“My favorite class is trail because it’s exciting to learn all the patterns and be able to show off all kinds of difficult skills,” she said. “The hardest class for me is also trail because some of the obstacles are tough to do correctly.”
Living in Cartersville all her life, Sawyer said her family has “always owned horses,” but she began taking lessons and showing when she was 5.
“My parents met about 30 years ago at a horse boarding facility in Smyrna, Georgia, so the love of horses is in my blood,” she said, noting she got Lucy when she was 9. “My mom laid out a list of sports such as soccer, softball, piano, dance, etc., and I chose horseback riding.”