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The Spirit of Horsemanship
... by Alice Brown at the Kenner Horse Ranch

On October 28th I took one of the Kenner Ranch horses, a five-year-old paint gelding named Wally, to the first 4H event of this season-a horsemanship "play day." Ordinarily this event is an opportunity for 4H-'ers to get to know one another and introduce their horses to a new range of experiences.  For me however, a key point of this day was to test my training (see my last article "Horse Halloween") of Wally and to see how he reacts both to the commotion of the event and to the presence of other "strange" horses.  His training performance has been great recently, so I expected not be disappointed.

I was also curious to learn why horses inspire both my and other teenager's dreams and imaginations so strongly?  I had been looking forward to going to the event with Wally for several weeks.  I think other 4H teenagers felt the same way.

When I first got to the Play Day, I unloaded Wally from the

trailer and he immediately looked around at his environment.  I expected him to be nervous at first but then to become okay with it.  I was actually happily surprised how fast he adjusted.  This was a good thing, because though the 4H arena was new to him, Wally needed to quickly manage his fears so that neither he nor I got hurt during the event's programs.

Usually when either Wally or I get nervous or feel any other emotion, we seem together to conclude that something is wrong.  It's like we are twins and we can feel each other's vibes (feelings).  I like this special bond I get with horses.  I always feel that I know what my horse is thinking.  Wally is like my dream horse.  He is tall, pretty, and quiet and loves people. Wally and I have that special bond because we both listen to each other and help each other each day.  We both know when we have done something wrong and we try to fix it.  There are so many things Wally and I have, but it's really hard to explain.  Horses, to a lot of my horse friends and me, are like heaven.  It's all we can think about.  We like to imagine ourselves running through fields bareback and feeling free. 
Author/Trainer Alice & Her Friends Collin & Ian
Wally just out of the trailer
When we were at the play day, Wally got a lot of compliments on his calm behavior. Horses can't really appreciate the verbal compliments they get.  So when I get compliments about Wally, I like to believe that that they are really complimenting me.  This certainly makes me feel good.  Most people thought that Wally had done this many times before, but he never has.  At one point in the show I was waiting for my next class.  Wally and I were calmly sitting there.  I wasn't holding my reins, his head was down, and he was resting one leg.  I had not expected such utter calmness from him during his first horse show away from the ranch.  I think he was probably relaxed because I too was relaxed. I thought Wally and I communicated pretty well.  So, in a way, I think people were really complimenting me as well.

The play day wasn't always about horse to rider communications.  It was also about people too.  One of my friends in my 4-H group was there with her mother: Brisa and Regina Aguilera (also from Julian 4H).  Brisa rode her pony "Little Elmer."  He's too cute.

Her pony inspires her to do her best and to just to have fun with it.  When she competed in her classes she took her time and communicated very well with her pony.  She didn't rush through it.  Before one of her classes, she and her mother developed strategies for the class.  That teamwork must have worked.  She got a third place ribbon in that event.

Wally and I waiting for our event
When I came to the part of the show that I was training for, the Costume class, Wally did great. A lot of the kids were wearing sparkly, flashy, wavy objects (ribbons, bright colors, a lot of feathers and objects that made noises). He didn't spook and he listened to my body cues and behaved just perfectly!  Showing horses is my dream.  With his friendly and calm behavior, Wally helped me realize my dream and was part of it.

When it came time too go home. He again listened to me, got in the trailer and was fine all the way home. This day he definitely helped me see that horses are great and that I could see my future being a great horse owner and trainer. That's why horses inspire my dreams! Well, I have to go get together with my friends and help others to be the best they can be!!

Brisa, Regina & Little Elmer strategizing before their event.
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