When I began learning how to ride, my adoptive mother Ethel got me involved in 4-H. At the time I didn't quite grasp everything about it then, but looking back it was quite the thing for me to do. I didn't care for the book work & quite honestly I wasn't that good at it.
When I first started out, I rode Western & bareback & about a year later I would graduate to English which I liked the best. The shows allowed me to be the best I could be at that time & learn from my mistakes so I could do better the next time. I had a hard time differentiating between Equitation & Pleasure classes & Ethel told me how I could remember it easier. She said Pleasure is about you, Equi= Equine & is about the horse. Ahhh Now I got it! As long as I knew which class was coming up, I could then concentrate on how to best show my horse, or myself.
When a show was coming up, I usually was too excited to sleep. I'd be up at 5:30 when I didn't need to get up for at least another hour. I'd go out & check my tack, & make sure I had all my brushes, mane & tail combs packed. I'd give my saddle & bridle a quick fresh cleaning as well as my boots. I'd load the tack I was taking & my dad Jerry usually sent another saddle with us to try & sell at the show. I'd get my saddle pads out of the dryer & pack them as well as some feed.
By the time I got everything spiffied up & loaded I still had a couple of hours to wait. I'd feed my horse Shorty & give him a good brushing & hoof picking. That was the hardest time for me was the morning before the shows. I was too keyed up to settle down & often run circles around myself trying to get rid of the excess energy.
When we got to the show, I got down to business & Ethel would get me registered for all the classes she felt I was ready for. She would come tell me what was first & I'd get ready for it. Usually it was halter classes. Shorty was just under 14 hands. He was to tall for pony classes & not quite big enough for horse classes. Ethel registered me for horse classes to try & alleviate any problems, except the halter class. She registered me in the pony class because of my degree of education & also because most of the time Shorty qualified to be in those classes. Needless to say, most of the time I got boosted to the horse classes in Halter. The judges had to debate about it first of course & then pull me out of the final judging line. It was a mess, but it was fun.
I had been disqualified from a bareback class because I didn't know we couldn't get off & get something we dropped. Yep, I really did that. I made sure my hair ties were glued in the next time.
Over the years I was in 4-H I learned a great deal about horses, horsemanship & management. I earned a great many blue, red, gold, green & even a pink one. I got most all of my education at that time from Ethel & Jerry & I will forever be grateful to them. They gave me something so invaluable that money could never buy. They boosted my passion for horses & allowed me through my mistakes to learn that not all parents are "bad".
I'm far from entering any shows now. It's not my passion. Competitive trail riding, endurance riding.. that's where my passion now lies & I hope to begin this endeavor within a few years. I have to go back to class & take refresher courses on riding, balance & stuff like that, but I will get there. The things I learned from 4-H keeps coming back to me as well & is extremely helpful in my returning to ride.
One step at a time.. one day at a time, I'll get there. If you have kids or know of kids who love horses they may very well benefit from joining 4-H. Maybe you could sponsor a horse for them to ride & learn on, or give them a hand by trailering to shows.
Nowadays there are so many different 4-H clubs that kids can benefit from, not just horses. I'm sure there is one for every child's passion. Get the kids involved & going back in the right direction. Give them purpose & meaning & they'll find their compassion & passion for their dreams.
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