4-H group learns the fundamentals of horse handling
Some little girls dream of owning a pony. The young women I met at This Old Horse dream of hard work, getting dirty, and blue ribbons to show for it.Some little girls dream of owning a pony. The young women I met at This Old Horse dream of hard work, getting dirty, and blue ribbons to show for it. The 4-H club, Horseless Horses, were preparing for the Dakota County Fair by learning the patterns in which they led the horses. The participants could be aged 9-18 and do not have to own their own horse. But a love of horses is definitely a prerequisite. Two of the youth leaders I met, Kourtney Pederson and Kayla Huntington, acquired horses after being a part of 4-H. Huntington, who graduated from Northfield High School and who just finished her first year at UW River Falls, first started riding horses when she was four years old in the very barn that we stood. When one of the horses the kids were working with started getting feisty, Huntington took the chance for a learning opportunity. “This is an example of how horses are not robots,” she laughed while teaching. The fact that there is always something more to learn about horses, even after decades of education and experience in the equestrian arts, is what continues to attract Huntington to the majestic beasts. This is her last year with 4-H, her “13th year,” and she’s sad to say good-bye but feels good about the work she’s been able to do leading the younger students. Pederson, on the other hand, has one more year. She just graduated from Farmington High School and will be studying agribusiness next fall at Iowa State. She has been inspired by her mom as a leader in 4-H. She likes that it’s a youth-led program; “It teaches kids skills and responsibility.” Mae McCubbin, a nine-year-old attending Rosemount’s Shannon Park Elementary, was one of the younger students in the barn. This was her first year as a part of Horseless Horse, but she has participated in a number of other 4-H events, including a blue ribbon in photography. That’s another one of the perks Pederson shared. “There are thousands of activities in 4-H, and if it’s not there, you can add it in a self-directed category.” McCubbin seemed a little more hesitant leading the horse in a circle versus the girls who had done this last year. Huntington offered encouragement and advice, and McCubbin’s mom cheered her on from outside the fence. When the youth leaders talked about dress code for the fair, her confidence had significantly bloomed and she proudly posed wearing her long-sleeved button-down plaid shirt paired with her jeans and pink cowboy boots. Jenn McCubbin, Mae’s mother, shared with me Mae’s frustration at a soccer game. The team had done well at their first game, but had lost the second in a tournament. Still, everyone received a medal for participation. Mae had been dismayed at seeing the medals being handed out. “She didn’t want it. ‘I didn’t earn that,’ she said.”
The Horseless Horse will be showing at the Dakota County Fair at 7 p.m. on August 9th in the arena.