4-H'er Logan MacKenzie driven by the rewards, not the awards thanks to his love for animals

As the weather warms up and schools prepare to close for summer, 4-H youth in the county may turn their attention to the fair. But 14-year-old Logan MacKenzie’s focus is always on his show animals.

In April, Logan won the Outstanding 4-H Junior Award at the annual 4-H Awards Banquet, but he didn’t even know he’d been nominated, so he didn’t attend.


“Once a year they choose an outstanding junior and an outstanding senior award,” said Logan’s mom, Tracy MacKenzie. “He didn’t even know he’d won until he went to his 4-H meeting and was given the award. It’s a camp chair that says, Logan MacKenzie, Outstanding Junior.”

Hannah Eberly, superintendent for the Carroll County 4-H horse program, said she’s watched Logan’s transformation into an amazing young man. She met him when she was a teen teaching riding lessons with Candy Cole at High Ridge Farm in Manchester and he was a young boy. Now she’s assistant leader of the High Ridge 4-H Club, where he is the activities organizer.


“He was already riding western but wanted to learn English as well, so I started teaching him,” Eberly said. “He started showing horses around age 8 and he has been showing sheep the past few years. Now, he has [nine] lambs.”

According to Eberly, Logan keeps busy. He does horse judging, horse bowl, hippology, therapeutic riding, demonstration day, 4-H Jamboree and the Junior Stock Show and teaches woodworking and crafts at the Mid-Winter Blahs workshops. He also works and shows horses at High Ridge Farm.

“He also belongs to [and is vice president at] Gunpowder 4-H Club,” Eberly said. “Logan is someone I have seen grow so much over the past few years. He has evolved as a young man and as an exhibitor. He is always willing to help and do whatever we need, and he works so hard to get better. Some of the kids are in it for the scholarships or the college resume but he genuinely loves working with the horses and the sheep. You don’t see that kind of passion much anymore. He is very patient with the younger kids he helps and also with his animals.”

While the Earth has shifted its angle closer to the sun, beautiful things have begun to pop up all around us. Trees are blossoming, flowers are exploding with color, birds are building nests and wild animals are on the prowl again.

Logan sheepishly changed the subject when he heard high praise. He wanted to talk about the horses.

“I started riding horses when my grandmother [Carolyn MacKenzie] put me on a horse for my first birthday,” Logan said. “I had pony rides here and there, and then, when I was 8 — after we moved back from Colorado — I started taking Western lessons with Candy. About a year ago, they asked me to warm up a horse at therapeutic riding. I told them I didn’t ride English, but they said to just hop on. When I told Ms. Candy, she suggested English riding lessons, so Hannah started teaching me to jump.”

Logan is intensely focused on the horses he loves, perhaps because he sees them in his future.

“I want to become a trainer and work with horses and people, and I’d like to take my riding career higher,” he said. “Right now, I’m leasing an off-track thoroughbred named Clark Kent. I’ll show him in the fair in English and Western.”

Cole laughs when she talks about her early days with Logan.

“He wasn’t very focused when he was younger and improved slowly at the beginning,” she said. “But then, he started doing horse bowl, horse judging and hippology with 4-H, and public speaking and demonstration days. Then one year I suggested he help with therapeutic riding and he did that, too. There are times that you see him just standing with his arms around the horse. He is very compassionate with a true love for horses and showing. And he is the same with the sheep.”

Cole said Logan surprised them by starting English lessons last summer.

“In July, he got an English saddle,” she said. “By mid-July he had just jumped the first time, so at the fair he wasn’t very good yet. Now he is unbelievable. He and Hannah did a hunter pace on Saturday and won. He is competing at 2 feet, 6 inches but jumping 3-3 now. And last year he helped at Special Olympics.”

For Logan, it is about the animal.


“Horses are definitely smart and powerful,” he said. “They are amazing animals and fun to work with and ride with. The sheep are fun, too. I like training them, and we shear two times during the show months.”

His mom remembered him telling her last year that he wanted to compete riding English, even though he had just begun to learn the discipline.

The 45th annual Hampstead Day will be held 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, May 26, at the Arcadia (Upperco) Carnival Grounds, 5415 Arcadia Ave., Upperco.

“We were at the deadline to sign up for the fair,” MacKenzie said. “He’d only had three English lessons, but he did it, jumping in the fair. Even though he got last place, he never let that discourage him, and since then, he has done extremely well.

Cole said Logan was the high point champion, riding Western, at the Maryland State Fair two years ago, even though he only had one horse, while other competitors had three or four horses.

“All those points count,” Cole said. “Some kids had several horses in each class, while he had one. He is a kid that, if he wins, OK, and if he loses that’s OK, too. He has never been about winning so when he gets something he is shocked and surprised. With him it is about the rewards — not the awards. For him, it is about making a connection with the horse or pony.”

Eberly said she wasn’t surprised when Logan said he wanted to do sheep, too.

“Now he does the Junior Stock Show to help young 4-Hers learn about showing sheep and goats,” she said. “He teaches workshops there, helping others learn how to wash and shear sheep and prepare for fair.”

According to Cole, Logan shows three different breeds of sheep — Southdown, Katahdin, and crossbred commercial sheep.

“He is so caring with the animals,” Cole said. “He will help with anything whenever we ask.”

Last week, Logan showed up at hippology with “the invisible horse.”

“It is like a puzzle that all goes together to show how a horse is put together on the inside,” Cole said of the model. “It has the organs and the skeleton that you put together. He said, ‘I found this in my basement and thought it would be great for them to learn.’

“Little boys look up to Logan. This one little boy, Ronnie Hann wants to be just like Logan. There’s a picture we love that his mom took. Logan is dressed up and ready to go in the ring, but he is on his knees helping Ronnie put his show number on.”

MacKenzie credits Logan’s grandmother, Carolynn MacKenzie with his growth.

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“His grandmother really started all of this,” she said. “If it wasn’t for her he wouldn’t have done as much. She shuffles him from lesson to lesson and is there at every show.”


Logan agreed.


“My grandmother is very involved in 4-H,” he said. “She helps out anywhere and everywhere. She is a wonderful lady.”

Watching Logan with others makes Cole glow.

“He has become a sponge,” she said. “He wants to learn as much as he can about horses, and he passes it on. He just has the kindest, most giving heart. He is always friends with the kid who doesn’t have friends. He works hard but is never upset if he loses. And when he messes up, he admits it.”

Logan’s mom believes working with animals has taught her son a lot.

“He is a better person because of it.” she said. “He looks at their needs [the animals] and always tries to help, and he never complains about all the work involved. He will complain about cleaning his room.” She laughed and continued: “But not about farm-work.”

When asked what advice he would give to other kids, Logan was quick to answer.

“Never give up and always try your best,” he said. “It is worth it most of the time. Actually, all the time!”

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