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White to receive 2014 Mana Award at Hawaii Horse Expo


Most people might remember a tutu or an aunty as their first babysitter. Not Fern White, she remembers Pepper.

At the tender age of two-and-a-half, her family was immersed in paniolo life at Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui. When it came time for housekeeping chores, Pepper – her father’s all-around polo pony and hunting horse – was roped into service as the family babysitter.

Pepper gently grazed the front yard all the while balancing this precious, if irksome, toddler on his bareback.

Her father trained polo ponies for the Baldwin’s on Maui and Fern’s lifelong connection with horses began when she was still in diapers. By age five she was a hot walker and just a year later her rodeo career launched.

Since then, Fern has become a celebrated horsewoman to which she credits her father’s early coaching, discipline and sage advice of keeping an open mind to learn from others.

“The formula for knowledge looks something like experience plus coaching plus clinics. Wisdom is gained by knowledge plus experience plus experiments plus more experience,” Fern said. “Women have less powerful upper body strength than men, so we need to use more skill and finesse over brute strength.”

This classic, old-school rodeo rider thought trophies were nice, but more important was the common appreciation of ability and the coming together of ranching, riding, horse and cattle loving people to celebrate everyday work.

Fern, who started breaking state records as early as the 1958 Honokaa Rodeo Barrel Race and became the first Hawaii Rodeo Association State Champion Barrel Racer in 1964 and again in 1965, revealed that her all-time favorite rodeo event is saddle bronc riding.

“Horses teach people the value of balance, patience and integrity. They teach us interdependence and respect,” Fern said. “Horses are the noblest creatures on earth; they exemplify graciousness, forgiveness, goodness and dignity. They are courageous and kind. Horses and humans develop partnerships that involve both work and play and the emotional benefits to humans are numerous.”

Fern conducts weekly therapeutic horsemanship services through her Lio Lapaau – Healing Horses Hawaii in North Kohala on Hawaii Island. She provides horsemanship instruction as a nationally certified instructor and continues to participate in team roping events.

In fact, Fern has served more than 500 riding students in her hometown alone along with numerous pau units and pau queens, judges open horseshows, conducts horsemanship clinics and specialized rodeo clinics for barrel racing across the state.

When not riding, Fern White is an English Language Arts Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator at Kohala High School. She is deeply involved with many student projects including the highly competitive robotics team.

“I try to ride a minimum of four days a week,” Fern said. “My students joke that they know when I have not ridden because I become extremely grumpy!”

The 4th Annual Hawaii Horse Expo Mana Award, recognizing those who inspire and educate, will be presented to Fern White on Sunday, Aug. 24 at the Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables in Waimea.

The award will follow the traditional blessing of the horses. Hawaii Island Humane Society Executive Director Donna Whitaker and Dr. Lisa Wood of Veterinary Associates, the award sponsor, will present White the award which is named after an abandoned mare named Mana who spent the final months of her life in the care of the Hawaii Island Humane Society Waimea Shelter.

Past Mana Award recipients are Laura Rose (2010), Pudding Lassiter (2011), Franz Dick Solmssen (2012) and Edwin Nobriga and Wallie Kimura-Nobriga (2013).

Fern White’s Abbreviated List of Awards, Accolades and Community Service

* Hawaii Quarter Horse Association: President, Horse Show Sponsor Committee Chair

* American Quarter Horse Association Charitable Trail Rides in Hawaii (1997)

* Hawaii Rodeo Association: President, Secretary

* Kohala Rodeo Club: Secretary

* Cancer Benefit Rodeo: Producer, Secretary (1980-1993)

* Kohala High School Speech Club Benefit Rodeo: Producer, Secretary (9 years)

* Arthritis Foundation Benefit Rodeo: Producer, Secretary (6 years)

* All Girls Rodeo: Producer, Director (12 years)

* Paniolo Rodeo Club: Secretary

* North Kohala Community Development Plan Steering Committee: Chair

* Sparkle Award: Character Educator of the Year (2005)

* National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Board of Examiner (2004-07)

* Hawaii State Speech League: Coach of the Year (2008)

* American Quarter Horse Association World Championship 2000 Top10 Barrel Racer

* National Cowgirl Hall of Fame: Nominated

* Hawaii Rodeo Association State Champion: All Around Cowgirl

* Equine Competitions: You name it – she’s won it

The Hawaii Horse Expo runs Aug. 22-24 and includes an already sold out Equine Medicine Symposium, a Low Stress Cattle Handling Demo, two full days of simultaneous clinics and demonstrations, a marketplace with vendors offering state-of-the-art services, medical and nutritional information and programs, saddle making, and related equine services including clothing, art, a silent auction and delicious food.

Hawaii Horse Expo tickets are available for purchase at Hawaii Island Humane Society Waimea, Keaau and Kona Shelters, Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, and Alfalfa Hay & Cubes in Paauilo.

Hawaii Horse Expo is sponsored in part by AK Ranch, Parker Ranch, Pony Express Mail Services, Alfalfa Hay & Cubes and Aloha Auto Group.

Proceeds from Hawaii Horse Expo benefit Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Horse Rescue Fund. The mission of the Hawaii Island Humane Society is to promote respect for all animals, prevent cruelty to animals, eliminate pet overpopulation, and enhance the bond between humans and animals.

HIHS holds a contract with the County of Hawaii to enforce certain animal-related laws and it offers 24-hour service for injured animals and other animal emergencies, humane education classes, low-cost spay and neuter services, lost and found assistance, microchipping and more.

For further information, call 329-1175 or visit

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