Were you a horse crazy kid? If you had the horse bug and had a horse you were one of the lucky ones. I rode whatever horses I could find and remember that I would have ridden a cow if that was all I could find! I got my own horse when I was in 8th grade and it has been a consistent passion for me since then.
Children who are interested in horses are given opportunities to expand their interest through youth organizations. Groups like 4H are a great way to learn and experience animal responsibilities and gain knowledge. 4H and Pony Club are two well -known groups that exist in most states.
These organizations rely on volunteers to help with everything from lessons and safety to helping at horse shows. Getting youth into a solidly structured program is a great way to help them develop confidence, responsibility and good horsemanship. Angela Fountain is the local 4H coordinator here in La Plata County Colorado. When I talked to Angela about volunteers, she said “We are always interested in getting new volunteers and they don’t, necessarily need horse experience. However, one of our biggest needs for volunteers is for those that would like to give riding lessons. I have a few members that are very interested in horses but don’t have the ability to have a horse, so someone who could work with them from the ground up, would be great.”
In 4H there are several horse programs, including the standard Horse Project and Horseless Horse. If you have a nice horse that sits idle, consider letting a Horseless Horse member get some real experience with your animal. I loaned out a horse a few years ago – the girl was horse crazy and her parents weren’t the least bit supportive. I hauled her to events and coached her. She ended up winning showmanship at the county fair, and going onto college with an agricultural focus.
This is the time of year when 4H groups are setting dates for horse events. If you are an equine enthusiast adult, consider calling your local extension office or Pony Club to offer your time. If you have a specific area of expertise, you could give lesson or instruction time. If you want to help more generally the opportunities are endless. Horse shows and speed events need gatekeepers, timers, announcers, registrars, judges – well you get the point. Of course cash donations for sponsorships or needed equipment are always welcomed. “All funds that are donated to the 4-H horse program are used for educational activities, horse shows and gymkhanas, and awards that the members win throughout the year,“ says Angela Fountain of La Plata County Colorado 4H.
Let your passion be your gift. Make some calls and see how you can lend yourself to get youth involved in horses. There is no doubt it will be rewarding for you and those you help.
Happy Trails from Southwest Colorado.
Photo Caption: (Top to bottom) 4H Horse Project includes learning about all the work it takes to have horses such as cleaning tack. No matter what the weather, kids want to ride!