4H keeps kids in the saddle

Many people equate summer to road trips to the beach and lazy, hazy days with nothing to do. But for Chickasaw County 4-H members, it’s one of the busiest times of the year.
When school gets out, club members who participate in horse-related events are especially busy.
“During the summer we have the District Horse Show and, if they qualify, they can go on to State,” said Angie Abrams of the Chickasaw County Extension Service. Abrams is the 4-H coordinator for the county and said there are activities available year-round.
“The competitive (horse) season is January through March for the Winter Classic,” Abrams said. “Then we have clincis for roping and other things at the coliseum during the spring.”
Which leads into the summer horse shows. Some are 4-H sponsored while others are independent.
“The open shows start in April and go through November,” Abrams said.
Cheyanne Neal is just one of many 4-H members who participate in club sanctioned shows and open events.
“I’ve been in 4-H for ten years now,” Neal said. “I participate in all speed events, including breakaway (roping).”
Neal came by her passion for riding honestly as both her parents ride and compete in events.
“I became interested in it by watching my daddy rope every weekend,” Neal said. “He taught me and my little brother how to breakaway, head and heel.”
In addition to competitive riding, 4-H offers options for those who are interested in horses by not speed events.
Jacob Moore of Houston was a member of 4-H for six years and, although he rides for pleasure, he didn’t choose the competitive riding route.
“I participated in mainly Horse Bowl, but also a few horse shows,” Moore said.
“Nothing serious, mostly for fun.”
Moore followed a more academic path with Horse Bowl competition, Club Congress and various service projects.
Abrams said one of the positive aspects of 4-H is that is offers a well-rounded course of study in addition to action events.
“We have kids who love horses, but just don’t like to compete in speed events,” Abrams said. “They can learn about horse care and maintenance. They learn the whole aspect of what it takes to own, care for and train a horse.”
Although Moore and Neal traveled different avenues in 4-H, they both agree they are taking away valuable information and knowledge into their futures.
“Learning over the years, especially riding horses, you have to have patience in everything you do,” Neal said. “Hard work pays off in the end and never give up.”
Moore is currently studying mechanical engineering at Mississippi State University and credits 4-H with helping him learn to study.
“This comes mainly from Horse Bowl but I can’t describe how useful it is to be able to recall large amounts of information when working on engineering projects with CAVS,” Moore said. “4-H also helped me learn that dedication and hard work will always pay off, even if it does take five years of competitions for it to do so.”
Moore also pointed to the scholarships available through 4-H, one of which is helping to pay for his education, and to the camradarie between youth that 4-H builds.
“Anything you do in 4-H will be an adventure and a fun one at that,” Moore said.web 4h