HJ/EDHerald Journal Dec. 5, 2005

Christmas arrives early for Lester Prairie fifth grader

By Dave Cox
Staff Writer

“His name is Storm, because we brought him home in a storm,” explained 11-year-old Mike Dolezal of Lester Prairie, introducing his new friend.

Mike won the yearling paint horse in an essay contest organized by McLeod County 4-H.

“That was one of the most fun phone calls I have ever had to make,” McLeod County 4-H Coordinator Jill Grams said, remembering the day she gave Dolezal the news.

Grams explained that registered paint breeder Bonnie Ritter of Lester Prairie donated the horse to the 4-H program.

The winner of the horse was decided by an essay contest. Interested participants were asked to submit a one-page essay explaining why they wanted the horse, how they would take care of it, and what winning the horse would mean to them.

The winner was selected by an independent, anonymous judge who is familiar with the 4-H horse program.

Grams called Dolezal and his mother Nov. 14 to tell them Dolezal had won the horse, and they picked it up the following day.

Dolezal has been around horses his whole life because his mother and his grandmother own horses. Now, he has a horse of his own.

“I hoped I would win, but I didn’t really think I would win,” Mike said.

“We thought one of the older kids would win it because they have more experience, and they have better writing skills,” Mike’s mother, Cindy, commented.

Mike goes to his grandmother’s house every day after school to feed Storm and the other horses, and to spend some time with him.

He has been doing odd jobs for his family and friends to earn money to help with vet and farrier bills, as well as feed for the horse.

He is also involved in the 4-H horse program that includes practice in training and showing horses, and exploring veterinary science.

One of the conditions of the contest was that Mike participate in the 4-H horse training program (different than the horse program) for at least two years.

Mike will also be taking riding lessons, and had his first lesson last Saturday.

“We really want to thank Bonnie for donating the horse to the program. Mike will be able to learn with him and take care of him for the whole time he is in 4-H,” Cindy said.

Mike has been a member of 4-H for three years, and is a fifth grader at Glencoe-Silver Lake.


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