The 13th annual presentations of the Manitoba 4-H Young Horse Development Project (YHDP) were held September 6 at the Westoba Agricultural Centre of Excellence, in Brandon, Manitoba. The YHD Project, launched in 1998, is a joint initiative of Manitoba 4-H and the Manitoba Equine Ranching Association (MERA) and the Saskatchewan Equine Ranching Association (SERA), both members of the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC). The project provides a venue for senior 4-H members to demonstrate their knowledge gained through the 4-H Equine Program, as well as to showcase the stock being bred and raised on Manitoba’s equine ranches.
Each year, interested senior 4-H members (14 years of age by January 1 of the current year) apply to the YHD Project’s Working Committee. Upon selection, members are given a list of participating MERA and SERA ranchers from whom they may purchase a weanling. The YHD Project involves a two-year commitment, and teaches 4-H members valuable life skills about taking responsibility, setting goals, and applying their knowledge gained. Members raise and train their horses with the objective of presenting them as a yearling “in hand”, and as a two- year-old “under saddle”. Members receive an Enhancement Fund payout based on their individual efforts so that the experience of their presentation will be self-evaluated on the elements of basic showmanship skills, conditioning of the horses, and their abilities to teach their horses to work on a longe line and to load into a trailer.
Kevin McCullough, 15, of Carmen, Manitoba, is in grade eleven at Carmen Collegiate. Kevin presented his yearling Quarter Horse gelding, Doc N Peppy, “in hand”. Kevin said, “I chose my yearling because I liked everything about him. I liked his pedigree and I wanted a gelding. I need a performance horse for rodeo events as I’m planning to team rope with him at High School rodeos and local events in the future.” Kevin grew up with horses, has been a team roper for two years, and has been in 4-H since he was nine. This is Kevin’s first time to participate in the YHD Project. “So far, this project has taught me how to properly train a young horse. I learned on an older horse first, but needed to know how to handle and train a young prospect.” Kevin chose Doc N Peppy from an offering of weanlings bred by by D5 Performance Horses at Miniota, Manitoba, owned by Dean and Debbie Fenty.
Following each group’s presentations, YHD Project evaluator Bev McLeod of Brandon, Manitoba, provided constructive criticism to the 4-H members, relative to the project’s scoring criteria and indicating what she, as an evaluator, was looking for in their presentations. She said, “As far as advice to these presenters, I suggested the yearling handlers pay attention to the two-year-old handlers – what they did and how they looked. They would be able to tell by watching the others who stood out. They could also go to other horse shows and see who is placing and how they present themselves.”
Ten 4-H members presented their two-year-old Quarter Horses, a Paint Horse, and a Thoroughbred-Percheron crossbred, “under saddle”. Each horse and rider was scored based on their individual performance over a predetermined horsemanship pattern. Each member received a copy of their evaluation, a tri-coloured neck banner and a trophy horse cooler, sponsored by NAERIC.
Jessica Funk, 16, is in grade 11 at Goose Lake High School in Roblin, Manitoba. Jessica presented her two-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, DF Quincy Streak, also bred by Dean and Debby Fenty, “under saddle”. Jessica said, “I chose my gelding because I liked him when I saw him out in the pasture. He was nice looking, with good conformation and bones and his papers were pretty good. He’s more of a ranch type horse, which is what I wanted because I need an all-around horse. I’m going to try Barrel Racing with him, because he has lots of speed. I learned that it takes a lot of patience and horsemanship skills to start a young colt. This YHD project has been good for me. It’s my first time through with a young horse and will be helpful in the future because I can use this experience to start colts for myself.\”
Allison Fisher, 16, is in grade 11 at Dauphin Collegiate in Dauphin, Manitoba. Allison presented her two-year-old gelding, RF Blue N Smooth, bred by Royston Farms in Russel, Manitoba. Allison said, “I chose my gelding because he’s pretty, well balanced and has good muscle. I plan to keep him and use him in Ranch Horse Versatility competitions.” Allison already competes at fairs, in rodeos and in Ranch Horse competitions with the Southwest Ranch Horse Association. She’s an all-around competitor who exhibits in both english and western tack and even does goat-tying. She said, “I learned you need lots of patience with a young horse. It takes lots of time and feel to get what you want out them. This was a great learning experience for me as my future plans are to become a large animal veterinarian.”
Leanne Sprung, 4-H & Youth Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Brandon, Manitoba said, “We have a total of 2,556 Manitoba 4-H members in 2009-2010, and 522 equine projects were undertaken. This project provides an opportunity for members to establish relationships with Manitoba and Saskatchewan equine ranchers and to own and develop a young horse. The members gain advanced skills in selecting, feed and handling horses and an increased awareness of the equine industry.”
Lynn Coffey, the Chairperson of the YHD Project’s Working Committee said, “There were nine senior 4-H members approved to select weanlings in 2010, since we have a commitment from MERA and SERA ranchers and NAERIC to continue this program through to the 2012 ‘under saddle’ presentations. We are grateful to MERA and SERA for sponsoring the fees to cover our project evaluator. We also appreciate the ongoing support of the individual equine ranchers who offer their weanlings, and NAERIC for sponsoring the cost of awards, facilities – including the arena and stabling, post event press releases, and colour photographs for the members and ranchers, and for administering the YHDP Enhancement funds.\”
Approximately one-half of the 4-H members intend to keep their project horses for pleasure or showing in the future. The other half indicated they expect to sell their project horses.
For more information regarding the 4-H Young Horse Development Project, and to view photographs of all the 4-H members with their horses visit: www.naeric.org.