Rochester teen has knack for animals, big dreams

Aug 30, 2019

ROCHESTER — Elsie Woodland said that she grew up in a horse family, but she brought the rest of the animals that her family keeps on their farm into their lives. And it’s not an inconsequential number. At a recent 4H show in Marshfield, the 13-year-old brought a goat, mini horse, rabbit, horse, dog, two chickens and a guinea pig.

She did quite well at the show too, with her rabbit taking champion in two categories, her mini horse crowned showmanship champion and reserve champion (or second highest) in another category, one chicken that she showed taking first, a goat taking second in two categories and the teen taking first place in a riding class for the “canter” or higher speed category. 

Woodland was able to apply points from her different ribbons to a horse award and win the overall, horse award, bringing home about $400 in prizes. 

She also did demonstrations in rabbit hopping and vaulting. 

To care for the animals she emphasizes that “I have a lot of help, because I have a big family.” But part of it is also learning to multitask. She completed some of her summer reading over audiobook while mucking stalls.   

“This is all I do: school, work with animals and gymnastics,” Woodland explained. 

When it came to her wanting to adopt more animals, her family has always had the philosophy that “if I worked for it I would get it, but then I had to take care of it,” she explained.  

Woodland participates with Rochester’s Tails and Trails 4H club, and meant to go to the Marshfield show with the club, but ended up being her club’s sole representative. 

In addition to maintenance and vet fees for her animals, she also has several goals for her prize money. Her mini horse is currently a therapy horse, which means she has to pay for registration, buy a vest and boots for indoor setting. 

She started therapy visits two years ago when she inherited a service horse that had worked with another girl and realized that she wanted to train the horse to work with groups because “it makes them so sweet and calm, plus I wanted to help others.” 

In the future, Woodland said that it “would be cool to start a [therapy] program with other mini [horses], and bring other animals.” 

She also has a number of goals for her other animals. The rabbit that she showed, Rorie, can hop about three and a half feet, and the world record a little less than four, so she is eyeing that record. She would also like to show a dog and sheep next year, and eventually get an alpaca to show. 

Long-term goals for the teenage include a program in small or large animal science at Bristol Agricultural High School, and vaulting competitions. 

Tails and Trails inspires her by exposing her to other animals that fellow club members keep and have shown. But Woodland is also a bit competitive about it. She has been first in monthly and yearly log the last three years.

“I take a lot of pride in my record,” she said.