Patience is a virtue for 4-H horse show kids
Parents and well-wishers brought cameras. A few brought cushions. Parents and riders alike brought patience to Friday’s 4-H Western Horse Show.The show, one of the first events at the annual Eagle County Fair and Rodeo, which begins in earnest next week, put horses and riders through a series of events including showmanship and riding.A lot of the day was spent waiting as a judge went through advanced, intermediate and junior groups. Riders from each group participated in showmanship and riding exercises. “Mostly you do your pattern, then wait for the next event,” county 4-H coordinator Jenny Wood said.Throughout the day, though, riders help each other when they can. That spirit is one of the things that impressed new 4-H mom Vidette Gehl of Eagle-Vail.Gehl’s daughter, Monika, is just nine, but has been riding for a few years. Last year, she participated in English riding.
“That was a lot more competitive,” Vidette Gehl said. “The 4-H parents are all here for the same reason. The people are nice and the kids really help each other.”Hanna Nelson of Burns has seen both sides of kids helping kids. Nelson, last year’s fair queen, started in 4-H at about age eight. Now 16, she’s participated in any number of 4-H projects, from raising rabbits to participating in photography and sewing programs. She has also raised pigs for sale at the annual junior livestock auction.”It’s good experience,” Nelson said. “It gets you out, it gives you leadership opportunities and it teaches you responsibility.””All the 4-H programs have been an enjoyable experience for her,” Nelson’s mom, Ann, said.Programs offered through 4-H also give kids an opportunity to learn the fine points of working with and caring for animals.Katy Brandes has been in 4-H for the past few years, but really got into horses after returning from a year-long Lutheran mission trip to Africa a couple of years ago.
“We had animals galore in Africa… everything but a horse,” Katy’s dad, Peter, said. “We got into it when we came back, but we’d always come to the fair, and Katy loves it.”Like most 4-H’ers, Katy Brandes’ endeavors are supported by the family. Little brother Henry, 12, was the family’s “wrangler” for the show, taking care of the little jobs that go along with toting a horse. Peter, of course, got to drive the truck and trailer rig. “This is great for kids,” Peter said. “It teaches responsibility, dedication. This isn’t something you can pick up and put down.”Riders at Friday’s event showed that level of dedication.”It takes a lot of patience for your horse, too, and you’re both speaking languages you don’t really understand,” said Lakotah Doig of Gypsum. “It’s like you’re in a relationship with it.”
The judges judged:• Showmanship: leading a horse by the reins to specific spots in the arena, proving riders have control of their animals.• Horsemanship: Riding in a walk, trot and lope around the arena.• Reining: Riding a horse through circles, stopping and spinning.• Western riding: Demonstrating correct riding techniques.• Trail riding: Riding over obstacles.• A written test.