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4-H members teach younger peers about horses

Bailey Erickson, right, teaches Neela Peterson how to properly lead a horse Tuesday during a 4-H-led camp called “I Wish I had a Horse Day” in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Kyle Rozendaal)

By Kyle Rozendaal

WILLMAR — High-school-aged 4-H club members spent their day on Tuesday teaching younger kids about horses for the annual “I Wish I had a Horse Day” on the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds in Willmar.

Activities like these are truly peer-to-peer educational experiences. These activities give the older students an opportunity to share what they are involved in with younger students who are interested.

The 4-H’ers took turns teaching the group of students how to interact safely with horses, what each piece of a saddle is for, how to mount and dismount, what the parts of the horses are called, how to groom horses and how to properly lead horses.

“It’s such a blessing to be able to share our horses with these kids that don’t have an opportunity to have their own,” said Christine Mikelson, the camp leader for this year. “Seeing these kids so excited to interact with horses makes the entire day worth it.”

The children were given hands-on experience brushing the horses, cleaning the hooves and leading the horses with one of the older 4-H members. There were also short lessons that included information about horses and horse safety with a pop-quiz trivia game at the end of the day.

“This is one of our most popular summer activities for the kids, and it’s always been fully booked,” said Tammy Rudnigen, Youth Enrichment and Development Coordinator for Willmar Community Education and Recreation. “There is a lot that goes into this short day and it is great to see all of these 4-H families come together to design this and make it happen, by bringing the horses, setting up the lesson plans or working here all day.”

Two sessions were conducted for different aged students on Tuesday, one in the morning for second- and third-graders and one in the afternoon for the older fourth- through seventh-graders.

The proceeds from the fees for the class will benefit the area 4-H clubs and the 4-H horse team: The Country Club Riders. The money will fund future community projects and help pay for some of the costs of putting on Tuesday’s activities.