Youth and Horses Clinic Features Safety

Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:

In a multi-county meeting, Extension staff discussed a problem – youth who do not have their horses “collected” in a pleasure class.  This can create a potentially dangerous situation.  The question was posed, “Who has the authority to excuse horses and riders in this situation and was there such a rule?”  After some discussion and thought, it was suggested that rather than attempt to solve this problem with a rule, it might be better to approach it from an educational standpoint – teach youth the basics of safety, the importance of having a controlled horse, and how to manage a faster-gaited horse.  It was also noted that some youth were so inexperienced that they had no idea of what was expected in a halter class, pleasure class or gaming event.  Hence, a Youth and Horses Clinic was proposed.

Programmatic Response:

A Youth and Horses Clinic was held on May 29, 2008 at the Woodbury County Fairgrounds in Moville.  The clinic was sponsored by Woodbury County Extension, Iowa Horse Council, and Woodbury County Fair Association.  Over 70 youth were pre-registered for the clinic, and despite inclement weather conditions, over 50 youth and adults from eight counties attended.

Four sessions – Safety on the Ground, Showmanship at Halter, Western/English Equitation and Pleasure, and Gaming – were offered.  Participants were only able to rotate through three of the four sessions, as severe storm warnings forced an early conclusion to the program.

Outcome Statement:

This clinic successfully met its objectives.

Safety was an underlying theme for each session.  Only 25% of the youth were able to complete a pre-and post-test containing the same questions.  Youth came with some knowledge of horse safety.  Fifty-eight percent of the responses were correct on both tests.  However, 32% of the responses showed learning had occurred.  An equal number of the responses did not indicate learning.  Part of this may be due to early closure of the program.  Youth were not able to attend the fourth session and did not have the chance for learning to occur.

The clinic tried to reach youth who were not 4-H members, but could be encouraged to join 4-H.  Over 70% of the youth indicated they were not currently a 4-H member.  They were exposed to materials that explained how to join 4-H and to 4-H’ers in a teaching mode.

A fact sheet was distributed that explained how they might pursue their horse interest through other 4-H projects (photography, vet science, creative arts, etc.).  On the youth test, 100% of the responses indicated that could be involved with horses without owning one.  Three counties cited an increase in the number of these kinds of exhibits at the fair. 

4-H youth taught or helped demonstrate at the sessions.  When asked what they liked best about teaching a session, one response summed it well, “I liked the position of being a teacher and being able to “give back” my horse knowledge and experience to younger kids.”  When asked how they had used their teaching experience, two of the 4-H’ers said they wrote up the clinic in leadership exhibits at the Woodbury County Fair.  One of these exhibits was considered for the Iowa State Fair; the other advanced to state fair where it was awarded a blue ribbon.

The workshop provided youth an opportunity to develop new friendships. The 4-H’ers who taught made the following statements:

·       “I helped other kids with their horses.  I worked with one little girl who had been at the clinic, but was not a 4-H member.”

·       “I’ve seen a few of the little girls who attended the clinic. They always ask me about my horses and how I am doing.”

·       “One little girl at Woodbury County Fair said she recognized me from the Youth and Horses Clinic.”


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Page last updated: October 3, 2008
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