Couple Offers Horsemanship Class For 4-H

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A bit of rain one chilly October morning did not dampen the enthusiasm of 4-H Club members who took advantage of a horse clinic given by Gary and Sandra Walker.

"The clinic touched on every aspect of horsemanship, from the very basics of grooming through advanced techniques on showing," Sandra Walker said.

The Walkers own Rafter M Performance Horses.

After judging a 4-H horse show in 2005, she saw a future opportunity to volunteer her time to help 4-H members with their horsemanship skills.

"I mostly learned about leads, how to use the correct one, how to use the correct bits and my horse Angus' health," 11-year-old Noble Tanenhaus said.

"Proper shoeing is the foundation of your horse," Sandra told the girls.

English, Western, rail and pattern classes are just a few of the many classes that rider and horse train for as a competitive team.

"A lot of these 4-H kids may go on to be future horse trainers or equine professors," Sandra said.

Noelle Gordon said her favorite part of training was when the Walkers started doing spins on their horses.

Spins, she explained, occur when the horses front feet move in a circle while the back feet stay still.

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Rafter M Performance Horses and Farrier Service offered this horsemanship clinic to 4-H members. For more information, call (928) 468-8815.

"I know how to do it, but my horse doesn't," she said.

Getting off the rail (away from the side of the arena) to pass by a person who is moving slower with his or her horse is the best lesson 13-year-old Scout Harper said she took from the clinic.

"You have to pass on the inside of the arena, then pass back over," she said.

Girls who brought horses to the mid-October clinic paid $25. Those who did not bring their horses were charged $10.

"We did it for a nominal fee, because we wanted the girls to have to earn money whether it was through allowance or babysitting or whatever they had to do so that they would appreciate what they were learning and doing," Sandra said. The entire amount collected was donated to the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial Fund.

The Walkers enabled the 4-H members to learn to "trust their horsemanship abilities, feel a part of a successful event while excelling independently and to learn the benefits of generosity," said Gila County 4-H coordinator, Lani Hall. "As a surprise, with generous donations from very supportive sponsors, we held a drawing at the end of the clinic."

No one was left out, everyone who attended received a gift.

"We gave away a beautiful show headstall, spur straps, grooming supplies, riding helmets, gift certificates to Corral West and an instructional video, donated by 21 time World Champion trainer, Al Dunning," Sandra said.

"We'd like to thank those who donated to our clinic -- Rim Country Feeds, Bob and Patti Evans, Al Dunning and Payson Feeds."

The girls have asked, and the Walkers plan, to give another 4-H clinic in 2007.

"4-H is family-oriented. So, it is important for people who can, to donate their time to mentor 4-H kids," Sandra said. "Any time you do anything hands-on with animals it brings out a sense of confidence that translates and benefits you throughout life."

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