Young Horse Development Program
2016 MERA/Manitoba 4-H Young Horse
(September 21, 2016 - Brandon, MB) --- The nineteenth annual presentations of the Manitoba 4-H Young Horse Development Project (YHDP) were held September 5, 2016 at the Westoba Agricultural Centre of Excellence, in Brandon, Manitoba. The project provides a venue for senior 4-H members to demonstrate their knowledge gained through the 4-H Equine Program, as well as to showcase the stock being bred and raised on Manitoba's equine ranches.
Each year, interested senior 4-H members (14 years of age by January 1 of the current year) apply to the YHD Project's Advisory Committee. Upon selection, members are given a list of participating Manitoba Equine Ranching Association (MERA) and Saskatchewan Equine Ranching Association (SERA) ranchers from whom they may purchase a weanling. Prices are pre-set and ranchers receive half of the purchase price; the balance is placed in that year's Project Enhancement Fund.
The YHD Project involves a two-year commitment, and teaches 4-H members valuable life skills about taking responsibility, setting goals, and applying the knowledge gained. Members raise and train their horses with the objective of presenting them as a yearling "in hand", and as a two-year-old "under saddle". Members receive payouts through their yearling presentations (1/3 of the Enhancement Fund) and through their two-year-old presentations (the remaining 2/3 of the fund); completing their project books; and by adhering to the rules and regulations. Formal placings for the presentations are irrelevant. Members receive an Enhancement Fund payout based on their individual efforts, so the experience is self-achieving.
In 2016, five 4-H members exhibited their yearlings, one Appaloosa and four Quarter Horses, "in hand". They were evaluated on the elements of basic showmanship skills, conditioning of the horses, and their abilities to teach their horses to work on a longe line and to load into a trailer. Scores ranged from 149 points to 204 points, out of 260 possible points. The members earned a share of the $700.00 in the 2015 Enhancement Fund. As a group, they accumulated 872 points, averaging 174.4 each, and will be paid $0.80/point, based on their individual scores. Each yearling presenter received a copy of their evaluation, a tri-coloured neck banner, a Horse Industry Handbook - A Guide to Education, Care and Management, published by the American Youth Horse Council sponsored by the North American Equine Ranching Information Council (NAERIC).
4-H member Keegan Burt, 17, is in grade 12 at Langenburg Central School and lives in Langenburg, Saskatchewan. This is Keegan's first involvement with the YHD Project, although as she said, "It was always a goal. I applied once before and changed my mind as I decided I needed to build my skills with a three-year-old first." Keegan already had an impressive set of skills as she's been showing since she was five-years-old, competing in multiple disciplines: jumping, dressage, barrels and poles, reining, working cow horse, cutting, some roping and a variety of other youth classes on the Quarter Horse show circuit. Keegan has won two MGRA saddles, and earned multiple high point youth awards competing in the Crocus Cow Horse and Manitoba Quarter Horse circuits. She is perhaps most proud of winning two sportsmanship awards in 2015. However, said Keegan, "This is the first horse I've started from scratch. I wanted something with talent for the Quarter Horse circuit. When I went to Little Valley Quarter Horses, he approached me. I liked the curiosity, confidence and personality he gave off. His colour caught my eye, and he's well-bred, with good conformation and temperament. He's easy to train and willing to do everything. I hope to start him in the Quarter Horse circuit next year if he's caught up with his growing. He's a big horse with a long stride so I'll start him in English." Keegan plans to apply to university to obtain a Bachelor of Science in pre-medicine, and her eventual goal is to specialize in pediatric oncology.
Greg & Faye Little, Little Valley Quarter Horses, at Decker, Manitoba, are the breeders of Keegan Burt's yearling. They have been equine ranchers since 1992. Faye said, "We have been involved with this 4-H project right from the start in 1998, and have sold many weanlings to members. There were several reasons why we joined this project. We were once 4-H Project Leaders ourselves, so it immediately drew our interest. We felt it would give the 4-H youth an opportunity to purchase good quality foals and to learn and develop their horsemanship skills. We also felt it was a good way of promoting our horses. The most fulfilling thing we have received out of the program is meeting the great kids and their parents and we love to talk horses with them. It gives us much satisfaction to see all those youth at the presentations each year. Not only do they now have well broke horses, but they have earned a feeling of self-accomplishment and self-esteem. I think this program has worked 100%, and we take our hats off to all those who have worked so hard to make it happen for our Manitoba 4-H youth."
Two 4-H members presented their two-year-olds, all Quarter Horses "under saddle". Each horse and rider was scored based on their individual performance over a predetermined horsemanship pattern. Scores ranged from 197 points to 208 points out of a possible 270 points. The members earned a share of the $933.34 remaining in the 2014 Enhancement Fund. As a group, they accumulated 405 points, averaging 202.5 each, and will be paid $2.30/point based on their individual scores. Each member received a copy of their evaluation, a tri-coloured neck banner, and trophy cooler, sponsored by NAERIC.
2016 Two-year-olds Under Saddle Presentations (in order of appearance):
4-H member Daisy McKee, 17, is in grade 12 at Elton Collegiate in Forrest and lives near Minnedosa, Manitoba. Daisy presented her Quarter Horse mare, Flashy Carma (Montana) as a yearling in the 2015 Young Horse Development Project presentations. Daisy said, "I think compared to last year, she really loves to work for me, she does even better in class than in practice. I took her to the fair circuit all across Manitoba this summer and showed her in Halter, Showmanship, and Western Pleasure to get exposure and experience. I have no plans to sell her, I plan to continue to ride and show her. I actually started her in driving to get her used to mouth cues, without any weight on her back. I've been a junior driver of Clydesdales for Neil Jardine of Brookdale, Manitoba. Montana's been very easy to train, right from the start, due to her quiet disposition and gentle temperament, more important to me than bloodlines." Daisy has already applied to Lakeland College in Alberta, to take their two-year Animal Health Technician course.
Kirk and Gail Bridgeman, who own and operate Bridgeman Land & Livestock Ltd., at Rapid City, Manitoba, have been equine ranchers for 35 years. They are second generation equine ranchers, as Kirk's late parents, Ken and Janie Bridgeman were pioneers in the business. Gail said, "We farm about 2,200 acres of grain, hay and pasture and have some commercial cattle. Our breeding operation consists of approximately 150 horses, of which 10 are stallions. Quarter Horses make up 75% and Appaloosas make up 25% of our herd. We have been offering weanlings to 4-H members in the YHD Project since the beginning. We feel it gives young people a chance to learn all about raising a horse. We attend the event every year to see them present their horses. For us, it's a measure of enjoyment, and we feel they are the future of our horse industry. A lot of these members have gone on into the agricultural field. And, a lot of the horses have ongoing careers in barrel racing and roping events." Two yearlings and one two-year-old were presented at this year's event from the Bridgeman Land & Livestock's breeding program.
Abe Friesen, Friesen Quarter Horses, St. Claude, Manitoba, was the evaluator of the yearling and two-year-old presentations. Friesen said, "I have judged in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, North Dakota and Minnesota. I have also been a farrier since 1984 and competed in western events. We've raised American Quarter Horses for 30 years, suited for racing and showing in halter and western pleasure events." Friesen was also the evaluator for the 2005 project presentations.
Dawn Krinke, Office Manager, Manitoba 4-H Council Inc., Brandon, Manitoba said, "We had a total of 2,309 Manitoba 4-H members in 2015-16 and 461 equine projects were undertaken. The YHD Project's Working Committee manages enrollment in the project, provides the project materials, and directly administers the project. The project provides an opportunity for members to establish relations with Manitoba and Saskatchewan equine ranchers and to own and develop a young horse. The members gain advanced skills in selecting, feeding and handling horses, and an increased awareness of the equine industry."
Lynn Coffey, Chairperson of the YHD Project's Advisory Committee said, "There were 5 senior 4-H members approved to select weanlings in 2016. We have a commitment from MERA and SERA ranchers and NAERIC to continue this program through to the 2018 'under saddle' presentations. We are grateful to the Manitoba 4-H Council for sponsoring the fees to cover our project evaluator. We also appreciate the ongoing support of the individual NAERIC-member equine ranchers who offer their weanlings and NAERIC for sponsoring the costs of awards, facilities - including the arena and stabling, post-event press releases, and colour photographs for the members and ranchers."
The YHD Project's Advisory Committee consists of: Lynn Coffey, Ethelbert; Amanda Mantik, Ashern; Darlene Dudar and Marsha Dudar, Ethelbert.