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December 2008
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February 2009

January 2009

Horse project “jumping” ahead

Larimer County 4-H is expanding its jumping opportunities for youth, and has organized a series of six clinics to help riders develop the necessary skills to complete a full jumping course.

Previous jumping experience is not required, and the clinics will be broken out according to riding advancement levels. This will also provide riders an excellent opportunity to expose their horses to the arenas at the county fairgrounds.

The clinics will be dedicated to Equitation Over Fences, and the instructors will help riders advance their English riding skills to include jumping.  This includes developing a proper and secure seat, good hands, a willing horse and the ability to jump a full course. Equitation Over Fences means that riders are judged on their riding and not the horse.

The training will bring Larimer County in line with what is required to compete at the Colorado State Fair. The clinics will be divided into levels and will start with Level I and the correct way to approach ground/trot poles and cross rails. The first clinic takes place March 21, 2009.

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Hunt Seat: Ride the flying lead change

A key maneuver for a winning equitation pattern or a passing score on the Colorado 4-H Horse Project Level III or Level IV riding test is the flying lead change. To ride the flying lead, you need rhythm, balance and the ability to quietly multi-task at speed. DO: Keep your "building blocks" properly stacked. Stay centered in the saddle, cue as the horse's old front lead leg hits the ground, lift your horse’s shoulder with the rein on the side of the new lead, press with the outside leg, allow your "soft eyes" and energy to flow with the new lead. (Find building blocks, soft eyes and energy focus in Sally Swift's Centered Riding, left.) DON’T: Look down, tip to one side or the other, let your horse drop the inside shoulder, speed up, yank or spur harshly. Get a few lessons on a trained horse so you know what a flying lead is supposed to feel like. PREREQUISITES: To truly ride this maneuver (push-button horses don't count), you and your horse must already be able to sidepass, pivot on the hindquarters and forehand, execute a half halt, two-track at the walk, trot, and canter. You must also be able to counter-canter, and smoothly canter from a halt and trot before you train for flying leads. The flying lead change is a complicated skill, but it adds value to your horse, and gives you a show ring advantage. Check out our video below for details. 

Sponsored by: Poudre River

Judging: Secrets of an unsung hero

Click to enlarge Raise your hand if you will travel thousands of miles, cope with stressed-out youngsters and parents, sleuth out hands-on learning opportunities, seek out high-pressure situations and oh yes, do it all for free.

I met a man this weekend at the National Western Stock Show who has done just that for 21 years.

Ed Bader brought his Texas group of youngsters to Denver to compete in the 4-H judging contest against 16 other teams, all of whom were finalists at previous regional events. In team judging, 4-H’ers compete to see how well they place horse show classes against expert judges.

Ed’s team always makes top ten. Eventually, I would learn three of his secrets.

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Budget-saver Gator accessories

Click to enlarge. Gators run into special problems in the winter, and while John Deere provides solutions, they can cost an arm and a leg. You can however, accessorize your Gator on the cheap. The first problem you need to solve is to get the Gator “shod” for winter. Even with the locked-wheel setting, Gators get stuck while towing loads – like our manure spreader – on the snow and ice. John Deere would like to sell you a new set of wheels and more rugged tires, but you can also buy chains, which are a lot cheaper. The chains do have a nasty habit of slipping around even when properly installed. You can prevent this with our first “accessory”, baling twine chain keepers. We have knotted the twine different ways over the years. Use your creativity. Just remember to tie up the loose chain tail. Last year, a chain tail caught a stick and the combination caught in the ignition toggle, preventing starting. The other problem is that when it gets really cold – single digits – Gators refuse to start.This winter, we pulled out an old heating pad and set it on low over the Gator’s engine block. This worked like a charm. If you don’t have a heating pad, you can find inexpensive models like the Dunlap Deluxe Heating Pad at Wal-Mart. See accessory details on our

Sponsored by: Poudre River