Riding with class

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Gulf County 4-H Big River Riders complete Horsemanship 101 series, competes at  Area North Horse Show

In the end of February, Big River Riders 4-H Horse Club members engaged in a series of five classes working on their horsemanship skills.

Basic handling skills are the foundation for all interactions with horses. These abilities can only be developed over time and often include a variety of techniques. It is very beneficial for a horse owner of any age to have diverse experiences working with horses of different breeds and ages.

Our volunteers and 4-H agent strive to give each club an educational experience that help youth to develop life skills for their future. Volunteer Brooke Swigart was lead teacher for this Horsemanship 101 series and focused on the relationship between horse and rider in different situations. Students and horses worked through obstacles on the ground and in the saddle. The skills learned at our local club helped to provide youth with the knowledge to prepare for upcoming shows, understand and apply training methods and gain leadership skills.

On May 7 and 8, four of our Gulf county youth horse club members participated at the Area North Horse Show in Green Cove Springs. Area North is composed of 35 counties, stretching from the northwest corner of the Florida panhandle to the eastern seaboard. Area North functions as a qualifying show for the State 4-H Horse Show held in Tampa in July.

Participants Jared Archibald, Riata Peck, Allie Archibald and Ava Peck competed in several disciplines at the two-day show. They focused on ground handling, western pleasure, trail, speed and cattle classes. Each one of our youth placed in every class. The youth in these classes were timed, critiqued by a professional judge on their abilities, and rode against 55 4-H youth competitors from the surrounding counties.

The Area North Horse show is planned by a committee of county extension agents and volunteers from the 35 counties in North Florida. Our horse club leader and volunteer, Jean McMillan, was presented the Volunteer of the Year award at this year’s show. Ms. Jean has given countless hours over the past 30-plus years to support our horse club and other 4-H events anytime she is needed. Volunteers are needed to fill essential roles for the execution of the Area North Horse Show. Furthermore, volunteers provide advice and recommendations on decisions regarding the show process. We are so proud to have her representing our county and standing out to always lend a hand when needed.

Julie McMillian is the UF/IFAS Gulf County 4-H youth development and family and consumer science agent. There are many volunteer opportunities and types of 4-H programs for youth to be involved with throughout the year. If you have a child age 8 to 18 who would like to participate in a 4-H club, or have questions about other opportunities with 4-H, contact McMillian at the Gulf County Extension Office at 850-639-3200 or jmcmillian@ufl.edu.

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