Expanding Young Riders’ Horsemanship Horizons


At the Polk County 4-H Open Horse Show

Responsibility. Confidence. Devotion to excellence. Every parent, teacher, and mentor desires their young minds to acquire these qualities, which are essential to anyone’s success in life. Young riders who recently took part in the Polk County 4-H Open Horse Show, which concluded in early February, acquired these important virtues as they prepared for the show, and for future horsemanship opportunities.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

“The main purpose for the Polk County 4-H Open Horse Show is to give youth a venue to practice and develop their horsemanship skills, while improving their character, discipline, citizenship and responsibility, which is the purpose for 4-H horse projects,” says Polk County 4-H Agent Amanda Squitieri.

From age eight and up, riders were able to participate in as many as six age-appropriate classes during the show, classes that test their skills as well as their dedication to the equestrian sport. Younger riders are also introduced to the safety aspects of the 4-H show, such as wearing helmets, preparing horses for riding, and what to be aware of as they ride.

There was an increase in competitors for the January show, with some 4-H members in neighboring counties also competing in the event. It’s easy to see why, with the value that comes from working with experienced horse trainers, as they learn the rules and regulations for taking part in a professional show.

The Polk County 4-H Club also has members that have represented the county in area and state horse shows, along with the 4-H South Regional Horse Show. Members also are currently on the UF Equestrian Team and Horse Judging Team.

“Our 4-H members achieve their own personal goals while also being encouraged towards positive self-esteem, goal-setting, and discipline where youth are able to see the fruits of their hard work and dedication,” Amanda states. “They receive feedback on how to improve their skills and, often times, 4-H members will help run show rings as they practice leadership, teamwork, and generosity.”

The show is open to the community as well each year, and Squitieri remembers one memorable competitor, a man in his 80s, who participated for the first time at the event. It is moments like that where Squitieri and all members involved witness the long-lasting merit and significance of the 4-H Open Horse Show.

“Observing the resilience, dedication and skills of the youth, as well as the teamwork and commitment of the 4-H volunteers (those who prepare for the show) is rewarding to me, from the county perspective,” she concludes. “It is a great opportunity to encourage the community to participate in and appreciate horsemanship.”

CREDITS

story by BLAIR TOWNLEY
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