Equine clinics offer games, education and skills
CENTREVILLE — Many of the 4-H’ers who kept their horses at the horse barn during fair week had opportunities to have fun with their horses in equine games, learn new equestrian skills and knowledge about horse care on Thursday, Aug. 10. Free clinics were offered during the day for those who didn’t participate in the open horse show held that day.
The clinics included a game that taught the official state sport of jousting. Participants also learned to lasso a simulated steer head, first while standing on the ground, then riding atop their horses. They also had the opportunity to participate in and practice showmanship with professional trainer Julie Witts of Swedesboro, New Jersey, and finally, learn more about horse hoof care from 30-year farrier Dave Crockett of Stevensville. Each clinic was different and challenged each equestrian to learn new skills.
In past years at fair, clinics included learning about riding reining horses, jumping horses for beginners, basic dressage riding, playing basketball on horseback, team calf penning, and a timed trail challenge, to mention just a few.
Former QA Fair horse show chairman Donnie Potter said, “We used to plan clinics with fun as the primary ingredient for the 4-H’ers. Of the activities, we tried to have two fun events for every one educational clinic. We wanted each 4-H’er to remember that fair was fun first, and remembering that, they’d want to come back next year.”
Potter, who had two granddaughters stay with their horses at fair this year, helped with the roping clinic. It was clear the kids had fun doing it, he said.
“It was something new we learned and experienced,” said Sr. 4-H’er Rachel Grabowski, 15, of Chester.
When the roping moved into the show ring, a challenge was put out by Potter, “Whoever is the first to rope the moving steer head wins $20 cash!”
The 4-H’ers who attempted this on horseback followed behind a single bale of hay with a mounted plastic steer head atop it inside a little red wagon that was pulled by a four-wheeler across the show ring. After numerous 4-H’ers’attempts, Rachel was the first to do it and won the $20.
The jousting game included snaring jousting rings with the jousting stick while doing a trot atop their own horse. Each ring scored a point, and the most rings snared won.
Julie Witts had 4-H’ers go through several showmanship patterns with their horses, praising and adding critiques for individual improvement.
In the afternoon, Dave Crockett spoke to the 4-H’ers about caring for their horses’ hooves. He showed them many different types of horseshoes and what each shoe is used for.
He said, “Some horses can go shoeless, and some have to have horseshoes.”
Horses without metal horseshoes have to have their hooves trimmed frequently (about once every six weeks); those who have metal horseshoes have to be re-shod every eight weeks.
Crockett said, “Done correctly, nailing the horseshoes on the horse’s hooves doesn’t cause the horse pain. Some people believe it causes the horse pain. Done correctly, that’s not true.”
Though Crockett has more than 30 years practical experience shoeing horses, he still attends yearly clinics to learn his craft better. He is a member of the National Association of Farriers that sponsors educational farrier clinics around the nation. Crockett is also a former public high school science teacher, retiring after 30 years of teaching in Maryland.
Veteran 4-H leader Donnie Potter had a lasso placed around him as he instructed these local 4-H’ers in the art of roping during the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Fair at the horse barn. From left are Makenzie Miller (holding Levi Marx), Potter, Rachel Grabowski, Ashlee Falcone, and Clover 4-H’er Lauren Levasseur.
Susan Witts of Swedesboro, N.J., left, puts on a horse showmanship clinic for 4-H’ers keeping their horses at the horse barn during fair week. Here she gives instructions on proper technique. Witt ran the 4-H’ers through several showmanship patterns, adding individual critiques and suggestions for improvements.
Farrier Dave Crockett of Stevensville holds up a horseshoe as he speaks to 4-H youth at the horse barn during the QA Fair, Thursday afternoon, Aug. 10. Crockett talked about caring for horse hoofs properly and the difference between having horses with and without horse shoes.