Horse Wise Creates Special Prize for 4-H Youth

I’m excited to announce the launch of the HorseWise® Horsemanship Buckle for 4-H Youth Groups!

The Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle will reward junior equestrians for learning good ground work techniques, becoming more aware of their horses’ physical signals and understanding how to prepare their horse for performance work.

It also gives participants with green or less experienced horses an opportunity to win a buckle (while giving their horse more training during the show season).

Best of all, it’s FUN – and encourages camaraderie, sportsmanship and good horsemanship!

Here are the details about the Horse Wise buckle points, requirements and show standards:

Buckle Requirements

A. Participants will study and then demonstrate following concepts and exercises:

1. Exercises to do on the ground with your horse (per Horse Wise standards)

  • Lateral flexion (standstill) without treats
  • Hindquarter yield and drift
  • Bring front quarters across (moving shoulders)
  • Backing up on the ground with horse in good balance
  • Back ½ circle in each direction with horse in good balance
  • Go by in circle in each direction (starting with correct foot); smooth transitions between walk, trot and stop; different speeds at walk and trot
  • Moving each foot three times (without moving other feet at same time) with just halter and lead rope
  • Simple jaw flexion

2. Preparing your horse for performance and athletic work

  • Awareness of your horse: observing body language, movement patterns and behavioral cues that show the physical and mental readiness of your horse
  • Understanding when a horse is processing and when to release the horse
  • Footfall at walk and why it’s important
  • Concept of “stuck foot” and how to help your horse with it
  • Understanding the concept of “Do less sooner”
  • Understanding the concept of “Waiting on your horse” while he is learning a new movement or aid

B. Buckle points, participation and assignments

1. Study work

  • Participate in at least two Horse Wise 4-H teaching sessions (group or individual)
  • Horse Wise assessment of your horse for project selection
  • Pick something to help your horse with over the course of season
  • Watch assigned videos (3 min or less) and ask one question from each

2. Judging requirements for buckle points

  • Participation in Horse Wise competition classes at 4-H shows
  • How horse starts and ends each show and/or practice – demeanor, relaxation and willingness will be given highest points
  • Overall improvement of horse and rider (as a team) in the Horse Wise assignments and overall 4-H participation
  • Sportsmanship, patience and commitment consistently displayed by the rider with their horse during 4-H activities.

C. Prizes

  • Horse Wise winner receives a buckle and $100 cash award.

How to Offer the Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle

Sound like fun? If you are running a 4-H program and would like to offer a Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle for your youth group, here is the process:

  1. You will need to provide a written request to Horse Wise to use the Horse Wise name and buckle requirements (we have a trademark for Horse Wise name).
  2. You will agree to use our standard ground work exercises, judging requirements and point system for the buckle. We will give you free (and fun) curriculum and judging guidelines (plus simple training videos).
  3. You will agree to use the Horse Wise logo in the buckle design (we will help make this as easy as possible by sending you artwork files for your buckle production company). You will pay for the buckle but we can help you find sponsors for part of the buckle cost (depending on your geographic location).
  4. Horse Wise will sponsor the $100 cash prize to the buckle winner for your club. We will also provide a podcast interview to the winner!
  5. Horse Wise will provide online mentoring, coaching and instruction services to the buckle competitors, judges and 4-H club managers. We will do this free of charge (as part of our commitment to youth education)

Goal Setting in Spring 2020: Part III of III

So if you’ve read the last two posts, you now have a 90-day goal for your riding and horsemanship. You might be wondering what to do next, given this whole inconvenient pandemic at the moment.

First, write that 90-day goal down at the top of the page. Let’s say your goal is to do smooth canter departs on both leads with your young, excitable and very green horse.

You have 90 days – or 3 months – or 12 weeks to accomplish that goal. Write down the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on a vertical line on the page under your goal. Each number represents one month. Write down what you would need to accomplish by the end of each month in order to reach your goal at 90 days.

Goal Setting in Spring 2020: Part II of III

Photo deliberately chosen with sole aim of making you smile.

So if you read the previous post, hopefully you’ve come up with a goal for your riding and horsemanship. One that you love and are super excited about. Maybe it’s the Olympics. Or maybe it’s being able to quietly w-t-c on trail rides with your sometimes nervous young horse. Or to compete in a team sorting competition. Whatever the goal — here’s the next step on reaching it.

Look at that goal and decided on a reasonable time frame for it. Is it the Olympics? Your deadline for that will probably be 2024 (unless you are 12, in which case you could pick a much later deadline lol). Quiet w-t-c on trails with skittish young horse? Maybe one year is a good deadline.
Ok — so now you have a deadline.

Goal Setting in Spring 2020: Part I of III

A fun strategy for right now is to set a 90-day goal. Make sure it’s one that you find genuinely exciting — and that fits in your overall horse plans for the future. What are the things that you always wished you had time to study or learn or get better at? Because what’s good about now is that we ALL have lots more time on our hands. And we have the luxury of slowing down. So many big gains in performance come from slowing down to get things right first.

Not sure what to pick as a goal? Try this exercise. Sit down and write out ALL your goals related to horses and riding. Every single one. Even the one about riding in the Olympics or the Calgary Stampede. Put them all on paper. Then read them over and pick the three that excite you the most. Don’t worry about the current weird spring break — just pick those three.

Simple Goals for 2020

“In all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“The secret in riding is to do only a few things but to do them right.”

Nuno Oliveira

What is the key to simplicity? Awareness.

Simplicity and awareness go hand in hand. You get to the essentials, the only things that matter. There is a confidence in that. For you and your horse.

If you are aware, you can see the heart of the matter. The foundation becomes clear.

Just like in a house. You could look at a house and see many things. The porch design. The décor. The color of the shutters. The size of the bathrooms.

Thankful for Horses

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Gilbert C. Chesterton

For me, Thanksgiving is the holiday of food, fellowship and good cheer. It’s a day where I give myself full permission to sit back and enjoy the things I love the most. When I had a full-time office career (back in my Washington DC days), Thanksgiving meant a day with my horses. Back then, a trip to the boarding barn meant a two-hour round trip (often longer, thanks to DC traffic). To fly down empty roads on a weekday was a rare treat.

Things have changed since then. My commute is a five-minute walk to my own barn. Horses fill my days. They are my office now. My job is all about working with horses, helping horses and taking care of horses. But they are still in my life entirely for my pleasure – for my learning and delight.

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