Stark-Billings County 4-H Horse Show teaches many lessons
DICKINSON, N.D. - Horses whinny while a strong summer breeze draws metal groans from the towering bleachers that overlook the Stark County Fairgrounds in Dickinson. It's a cloudless morning and boys and girls of various ages wait on horseback for...
DICKINSON, N.D. - Horses whinny while a strong summer breeze draws metal groans from the towering bleachers that overlook the Stark County Fairgrounds in Dickinson. It's a cloudless morning and boys and girls of various ages wait on horseback for their turn to step into the arena.
This is the 2018 Stark-Billings County 4-H Horse Show, where area 4-H students to put their horsemanship skills to the test-and according to Stark/Billings County Extension Agent Kurt Froelich, it will instill valuable life lessons as well.
"At the end of the day we learn how to win graciously and how to lose graciously," Froelich said. "It's the opinion of the judge for the day, so if today I don't do so good-tomorrow is another day." Humility is but one of many lessons that hands-on experience with horses can provide.
"Any animal is going to teach trust, you've got to have trust with your horse, you've got to have trust in that animal so that animal responds to you," Froelich said. "Responsibility-they don't feed themselves. They've got to be fed morning and night, they've got to be groomed, they need to be taken care of, their health issues."
For some participants and volunteers, horse riding was in the blood. Jody Baranko had two children participating in the day's horse show, just one part of the larger, multi-day 4-H Showcase going on in the Dickinson area this week. Baranko's love of horses began when she was just one year old, when she first began riding, and she had plenty of practical advice to give.
"You've got to be a little bit athletic, that's for sure. Sometimes they'll dart sideways real fast," she said.
Still, she added, it's the best way to travel in the country.
"We live way out in the country and it's not fun to ride bikes up and down the same road but you can get up on a horse and ride all over," Baranko said.
Kaylee Obrigewitch and her grandfather Louis Hutzenbiler share easy smiles as they make some last-minute adjustments to the saddle of Corporal, Obrigewitch's horse. She's been riding since she was knee-high herself, and at 15 years old, she said her biggest challenge in riding now is simply finding enough time to do it.
"It's very expensive and it's a lot of time consuming, but it's a lot of fun," she said, noting that her favorite part of the horse show in particular was the opportunity it provided.
"(My favorite is) bringing my horses to the arena and actually getting to mess with them because, (with) the ranch horses, I don't get to do that often," Obrigewitch said.
Hutzenbiler had been a rancher in his youth, and found himself drawn back to the world of horses when his daughter married a rancher of her own-though he'd taught her a lot about how to ride, he said: "I'd say she probably taught me more."
For Froelich, the official task of the Horse Show is to judge the students on their horsemanship.
"The officials are judging the students and how they interact, how well they've worked with their horses and do the horses respond to the commands the students are giving them," he explained.
For Froelich, after 33 years of participating in the 4-H Horse Show, his favorite part is watching the growth that results from the experience.
"My favorite part is just watching the young people and I've done it long enough that I've seen some of these young people start out at six, seven, eight years of age and I get to watch 'em all the way until they use up their eligibility in 4-H, when they turn 19 and are no longer eligible to participate," he said. "So I get to watch them grow as a person physically and also mentally in how they develop their skills in life, how they interact with other students and adults and how this prepares them for life."