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July 23, 2010   Email to Friend 

OYFF/EQUINE: Calhoun Horse Breeder Doubles As Inventor
By Melissa Martin

Hill says horses 'keep you grounded.'
Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 10 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2010. The winner, who will be named at the Federation's 89th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit, a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CCS Wireless, $500 cash from Dodge, use of a new vehicle and other prizes. The winner also will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles four commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.

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Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. But for Justin Hill of Calhoun County, invention was a way to keep his horses healthy.

That's because Hill has learned how easily horses purchased on the open market can become sick. To combat the problem, Hill developed a water tank that "mimicks natural running water."

The invention worked so well that the 26-year-old received a patent on the device.

It's not the only time that Hill, winner of the Equine Division of the 2010 Outstanding Young Farm Family competition, has flexed his creative muscle. He also devised a solution for another common problem on horse farms.

"We had a problem with an excess amount of horse muck and shavings," he explained. "So I've worked out a deal with a local landscaping company to trade the shavings and muck for gravel."

Finding solutions is just part of the job description for Hill, whose daily duties include those of trainer, leader, designer, breeder and negotiator.

"I like to raise horses," said Hill. "I feel that they keep you grounded."

With more than six years as a farm operator and through his position as events coordinator for the Coosa Valley Riding Club, that sense of being grounded is stronger than ever.

"I would like to help young people with a passion for horses achieve their goals in the equine industry," explained Hill. "I'm also trying to get a 4-H Horse Club established in Calhoun County."

FARM FACTS
• Last year, four horses from Hill's breeding program took four competitors to the National Team Roping Finals in their first year of full-time competition.

• Hill currently has two stallions that he uses to breed 13 American Quarter Horse mares.


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