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brandilion 08-18-2011 03:17 PM

need 4H weekly ideas
My daughter is in 4H and we are fortunate enough to have an indoor arena so we ride weekly all year long.

The problem is that there's no *one* leader, and no one really takes the lead to plan out the meeting/ride, so often the kids just end up W/T/C around the arena for 2 hours. I know it's boring for them and for their horses, and doesn't give them any useable skills for the most part. Close to show season we do work a few times on halter and speed events. My son has said he doesn't want to come any more because it's boring. Our group is pretty small, and I would say that's at least partly due to the way the meetings are run. But we do have kids from 4th through 12th grade, so we need to appeal to everyone (although maybe not all at once!)

I'm looking for ideas to help the kids get more skilled with their horses, learn about horse care, feeding and anatomy, have fun, be more engaged with one another, etc. What do you do in your kids' riding clubs, 4H, etc.?

I was thinking about asking a leader to plan 1 week a month, so no one feels completely burdened, while we still gain from having lots of instructors or facilitators. I thought if we could focus on something more book-based (such as learning digestive system or parts of the saddle or common illnesses) and something technical (such as sitting the trot, 2-point, etc.) and end with something fun (like a game or race).

It seems a lot of these kids have large holes in their horse knowledge. Basically they show up and ride for 2 hours a week and that's about all they know about horses & horse care. I really want to help them learn and grow as horsemen & women.

If it matters, we are a western club.

Please send any and all ideas!!

LetAGrlShowU 08-18-2011 03:37 PM

It sounds to me like you have some great ideas. I have NO experience in this, BUT i'll give this a shot just basing ideas of what I'd like.

You could start the groups off with some ground work techniques. Since you have a small gathering maybe group 2-3 of them in the arena to work their horses, and have the other stay to the side and watch while they work on voice commands and responsiveness. Then take turns letting everyone have a go. Middle of the class- have some riding and mix up what they do each week. Practice the two points, practice serpentines, practice sitting the trot or transitions. Then at the end of the class, maybe even while the kids walk to cool the horses off go over anatomy, or illnesses and symptoms.

Just some ideas. You may need to take the initiative the first week or so but then delegate (or ask) for other parents to help.

Nahvar4ever 08-18-2011 03:39 PM

hello there :)

I know that I used to be a member of 4H a couple of years ago and it was a great experience! Some of the stuff we did was we had a day when we all studied the horses anatomy =] other things we did would include Halter showmanship, we got a roping lesson, we learn about west Nile Virus and Strangles, one time we practiced emergency dismounts which was pretty cool. We either trotted or loped to the end of the arena and then did a one rein stop and dismounted the horse as fast as possible. For games we often did follow the leader (though it may be hard since you have such a variety of ages) haha at one point we ended up riding the horse sidways at a trot.

At the end of the year events we had a whole bunch of games we did such as the boot race (it was where the leaders took our boots put them in a pile and we had to run and find our boots, put them on, then get on our horse and race to the finish line.) There was also a whip cream eating race where he rode to a plate of whip cream, had to eat it without our hands and then get back on the horse and go to the finish line. We had a trail class and we also practiced loading our horses into a trailer :)

Hopefully maybe some of these ideas you could use, take care!

Alwaysbehind 08-18-2011 03:44 PM

I think you have a great idea.

Horsemanship skills like grooming, banding mane, pulling mane, tack cleaning, leg wrapping (injury and polo type wraps).

Do your kids do fitting and showmanship? That takes quite a bit of practice.
Having a lesson in all that stuff would be useful even if they do not show it.

Horsemanship patterns. You do not even have to work on patterns as much as the bits and pieces that make up their patterns.

Boring stuff like cleaning stalls, identifying good hay versus bad hay, safety stuff like properly tying.

MHFoundation Quarters 08-18-2011 04:25 PM

Sounds like you have a great, tight knit club! That's wonderful! I'm very involved with 4-H (kinda grew up with it, my mom is an extension agent...) I give a lot of lessons, host horsemanship/showmanship/trail class clinics & judge 4-H shows. It's rare to see a club (at least in my area) that puts that kind of effort into helping their kids and some are almost as political as the breed shows I go to so kudos to you!!!!!

I'd suggest having a non-horseback meeting and round robin ideas from the kids themselves on what they feel they need more practice at or areas where they could gain knowledge.

Pick a different class and work on it each time. It's always great to work any of the patterned classes (horsemanship, showmanship, reining, western riding, trail, speed events)

Get older members to have demo days. Let them talk/teach the younger members, things like grooming, show turnout, health care, nutrition, etc.

Mix it up with fun days. The kids appreciate a break from the work side of it and they will have fun just hanging out together. My students favorite is the mummy game. I stand in the center and give them a roll of t.p. I hold the end and they have to wrap me up until I'm mummified. It's a great exercise in pressure & control and they always like making a grown up look silly. I've been known to fall over and die when they are done :oops:

brandilion 08-20-2011 01:13 AM

Aww. You're so kind!

You guys are so great with your ideas! Please keep them coming!

And I do think our club is a really good one. Our mantra is to make it fun & low pressure. I see other clubs who have parents who scream at and belittle their kids & I just can't stand it. Or they encourage their kids to be rough with their horses.

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