Kandiyohi County 4-H’ers gather to help those with developmental and intellectual disabilities

WILLMAR -- Different types of saddles, riding skills and a little bit of comedy were all on display during a local 4-H group's horse demonstration Monday night.

Kristine Schueler, left, who helped organize the event Monday in Willmar that brought 4-H and Advocacy & Inclusion Matters members together, works with her daughter Mercedes and her horse Breeze. (Brian Edwards / Tribune)

WILLMAR -- Different types of saddles, riding skills and a little bit of comedy were all on display during a local 4-H group’s horse demonstration Monday night.

Nearly 90 community members packed into a barn at the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds as 4-H’ers hosted an event for members of Advocacy & Inclusion Matters of West Central Minnesota, which is a group that helps promote and put together services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“I have goosebumps, we have never had this many people,” said Kristine Schueler, one of the organizers of the event.


Current and past 4-H’ers came together to put on the event, which has gone on for multiple years. With past members coming back each year to the event to help out, the bonds that the program creates are revealed, Schueler said.


Local 4-H members talked Monday about different aspects of caring for and riding horses before bringing the crowd down to pet and brush the horses. But the highlight of the show may have been a presentation by Ryan Hern - a community member who has been working with horses and is planning on competing in the Special Olympics - about proper horse grooming.


Hern, who is also a serious history buff, had several off-the-cuff quips during his presentation that had audience members giggling in their seats, but his reverence for equestrianism was apparent during his presentation. “Horses don’t judge you,” he remarked multiple times.

Talking after his presentation, Hern said he had not planned much for the presentation and “hoofed it” while he was up there -- pun most likely intended. When he is working with horses, he said he feels relaxed and free.


RaeAnne Bartz, who also helped organize the event and trains with Hern as well as 4-H members, said she asked him to present about a week before, and he happily obliged.

Overall, the event provides the ability to do something for the community, as well as present AIM members with an opportunity that they may have never had otherwise, Bartz said.

The 4-H riding group is open to anyone who wants to learn, she said, adding that if families have members with some type of disability, the group will gladly accommodate. “We can make that happen.”

If anyone in the community missed out on Monday’s events, Bartz encourages them to come out to an event this weekend called “Meet and Greet the Arabian Horse” which will also be at the fairgrounds. The event will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


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