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Horse programs unite Mississippi generations
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Horsemanship clinics, camps and competitions are uniting young horse enthusiasts with mature, experienced riders across the state as interest booms in the sometimes athletic and always fun equine activities.
Clay Cavinder, equine specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said horseback riding is a great way to bridge generation gaps.
“Adults who grew up with horses enjoy passing that love to young riders,” he said. “County Extension offices help bring generations together, sometimes as they learn together.”
Cavinder said counties use Extension programs, such as Horse Management 101 and Horse Tales, to educate beginner and intermediate riders. Other county offices host barrel racing and cow-horse clinics, which are often for the more experienced riders.
Lee County Extension agent Brandon Alberson brought Horse Tales to third-graders in Saltillo as an introduction to horses and 4-H programs.
“Horse Tales gives the students a hands-on overview of horses, teaching them about breeds, uses, behavior and care considerations,” Alberson said. “We also wanted to teach them about safety considerations to help future experiences with horses be positive ones.”
Clay Cavinder describes the MSU Extension Service program, Hands on Horses.
Yazoo County Extension agent Katrina Owens said past summer horsemanship camps have been popular in her county.
“These two-day camps strengthen every participant’s foundation. Just like our horses, many of us have picked up some bad habits along the way, and we need to unlearn some of our methods,” Owens said. “Experienced clinicians demonstrate the importance of patience and consistent practice for safe and successful riding experiences.”
Montgomery County Extension agent Amy Ware said her county was the first in the state to host Horse Management 101, a nine-week program with classroom and clinic time.
“Montgomery County 4-H has a strong horse program. Members take part in horsemanship events as well as equine-oriented photography and public speaking projects,” Ware said. “Hippology and horse bowl (trivia) competitions help participants learn facts they need to know. Judging competitions are especially good at pushing 4-H’ers beyond their comfort zones, but that comes with a great deal of satisfaction from what they learn.”
Ware said children as young as 5 to 7 years of age join the 4-H Cloverbud program to learn more about horses.
Chickasaw County Extension program associate Angie Abrams said people of all ages enjoy regular weekend competitions in her county.
“We have something almost every weekend in Houston. They are making lifelong friends, and they have the whole year together with families from around the area,” she said. “They inspire each other to work harder, but friendships are preserved no matter who places first. They are always willing to help each other.”
For more information on Extension equine programs, contact the local county Extension office.