Kids start to learn their way around horses

'It was scary, but it was fun'
Jun. 17, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

Cinnamon the quarter horse and Cheyenne the appaloosa nervously took in the group of 12 kids circling them. The children held a variety of brushes in their hands and moved around impatiently, eager to get closer to the horses. Still, Cinnamon and Cheyenne were used to this type of attention. They had worked at 4-H camps before, particularly because their owner, Katelyn Hodge, started riding seven years ago thanks to her own experiences at a 4-H camp.

From Monday to Wednesday, the Cloverbud Camp, part of the 4-H Summer Exploring Youth Development Program, has taken over Anita Alta 4-H Outpost Camp on Mulberry Creek Road. Children ages 5 to 8 learn how to ride horses, fish, canoe and more outdoor skills. The lessons with horses, which include anatomy, brushing, how to hold the reins and the different pieces of tack, were definitely a favorite activity.

Lisa Deal, 4-H program assistant, said that the children can learn “responsibility, decision-making, safety and animal science,” which she described as “life skills.”

Chloe Triplett, 8, said that riding also helps relieve stress.

“(When) you feel mad or upset, if you ride your horse, you’ll feel better,” Triplett said.

Triplett rode Cheyenne up and down the gravel path, with Deal holding a lead rope. Triplett said it was little intimidating when Cheyenne ducked her head to try to eat the grass along the side of the path.

“I think that was fun when I rode,” Triplett said. “When she bent down to eat, I got scared the first time. But the second time she bent her head down, it was fun.”

Both horses were saddled with large Western saddles, and the kids wore helmets in case of any accidents. Before getting into the saddle, Hodge gave a lesson on safety, telling everyone to watch out for the hooves and not stand behind the horse. A few, such as Triplett felt comfortable on the horses because they had ridden before or owned horses at home. Others were quite nervous.

When it was Emma Combs’s turn, she pointed to Cinnamon.

“I want to ride that one!” Combs said. “That one’s the best.”

However, once she was on top of Cinnamon, Combs, who is about to turn 5, began to grow nervous. She immediately wanted to get down. Hodge encouraged her to stay in the saddle and by the time Combs had ridden up and down the short path, she had a smile on her face.

“It was scary, but it was fun,” Combs said. “I thought I was going to fall off and break my arms on the rocks.”

Still, it might take some encouraging before Combs gets back in the saddle any time soon. When asked if she wanted to try again, she said, “No way!”