The Horse Program is one of the most involved and influential programs of the 4-H Program. Horse shows run for the week of the Cattaraugus County Fair and then there are also three main shows a year; The Bonanza, Schooling, and the Fall Classic. It takes a huge effort on the part of the volunteers to put them together.
This past weekend was a Schooling Qualifying Show with approximately seventy five 4-H youth participating. This weekend the Judges actually work with the kids and instruct them on style and posture. Who goes to the State Fair is usually decided at the County Fair with the exception of this weekends competition. Some youth who place this weekend will not only receive ribbons but also an opportunity to compete in the 4-H Horse Show at the State Fair.
Friday night they had games night. Riders showed their techniques with barrels and poles. Saturday was English riding with riders sitting higher in the saddle and wearing hunt seat caps. Sunday was Western riding which means the riders wear western style clothes. Youth usually ride in one or the other but some of them compete both days. Patty Bailey, House Committee Chair has been apart of 4-H for 15 years. Her co-chair, Marsha Stang grew up in 4-H. Bailey said, “This weekend is all about the kids. It is a good weekend for them to get positive reinforcement.”
Megan Stang took Grand Champion for Western Pony this weekend. Colleen Bailey from Allegany, NY and her horse Tiki won Reserve Champion Western Pony. She stated, “This weekend..it’s a chance for me and her to figure out what we can do together.” Alyssa Olaf from Gasport, NY and her horse Izzy have been participating in 4H for six years. Olaf stated, “I have been riding since I was little…I like it.” Another 4-H club member is Kaye Vandenberg from Little Valley, NY. She has been a part of 4-H for four years and will be going to the Nationals in Oklahoma City, at the end of June.
The 4-H Program is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cattaraugus County. The profits from the Horse Shows are utilized for the updating and replacement of the educational equipment and materials used by both the 4-H members and Leaders. The 4-H pledge their head to clearer thinking, their heart to greater loyalty, their hand to larger service, and their health to better living for their club, community, country, and world. The world would be a little bit nicer place if we would all embrace their motto.