It has been a special year for 4-H as it marked its 100th anniversary.
As it happened the Yorkton Exhibition Association (YEA) celebrated two major anniversaries this year as well, the 125th year for its summer fair, and 25th for Harvest Showdown held last week.
To help the YEA mark its events, they chose to sponsor a horse riding drill team made up of area 4-H club members.
Bryn Hawkins, a four-year member of the Yorkton 4-H Light Horse Club said the drill team has been a “good experience,” making her a better rider.
“It was a chance to get closer with my horse,” she said, adding she had not had it too long. “It was a good way for me to get to know her.”
The drill team requires horse and rider to work as a unit, but also to be in sync with your partner rider, said Hawkins.
The basic drill team performance package came together rather quickly, said the rider, although practice has made them a more cohesive unit.
The troupe performed at the YEA’s summer fair, the Painted Hand Casino’s Counting Coup Rough Stock Rodeo, and then last week at Grain Millers Harvest Showdown’
“We’re definitely better today,” offered Hawkins.
The team approach to riding took some getting used to, said Shawna Turner, with the Yorkton 4-H Light Horse Club, noting riding is usually thought of as a solitary activity, not one which involves coordinating with a group.
“It’s a little more difficult to work to everybody else’s ability,” she said. “… But we learned to work together.”
It really came down to fitting into a larger whole, said Turner. She explained it was a case of learning the proper pace, noting if you are riding in front, you can’t go too fast and create a gap to the following rider, and you can’t go too slow and force the rest if the line to bunch up.
“You have to be thinking about everybody else,” she said.
Yet Turner too noted “it actually didn’t take as long (to get the basics) as you would think. It came together a lot faster than anyone thought it would.”
“It’s a little harder,” agreed Matthew Zalys-Sneretsky from the Yorkton 4-H Light Horse Club. “(But) you get used to it quickly,” adding the key “is keeping up and being with your partner all the time.”
Interesting, Zalys-Sneretsky noted the horses have to be in sync too.
“Your horse has to like your partner’s horse too.”
Hawkins said the exposure the drill team performances have afforded local 4-H has been good. She said it shows young people just a bit abut what they might experience in 4-H, adding it’s also good that “it shows we can be involved with the community.”
“I think it’s really cool,” said Turner, adding it was one of the major projects in the area to mark 4-H’s 100th anniversary. “We’ve never done anything like this and it’s nifty.”
And the riders all agree getting into 4-H was a good choice.
“My grandfather was a horseman. He was always trying to get me to do stuff with them,” said Hawkins, 16.
So Hawkins joined with the idea of learning more about horses, and seeing where the interest might take her.
Turner said she followed a sibling’s footsteps to 4-H.
“My sister was involved in 4-H. I just dragged along with my little pony,” she said.
And Turner said as a result she has learned a number of life-skills, from taking responsibility, to public speaking, through to assuming a role of leadership after a dozen years in 4-H.
“They teach you a lot of tough things,” she said, pointing to public speaking, which was a challenge for her, but thanks to 4-H “I found the confidence to do it.”
For Zalys-Sneretsky, 14, 4-H was a chance to experience new things.
“I was home-schooled,” he said, adding 4-H was an opportunity to make new friends and learn new things.
“I’ve learned lots,” he said. “I’m more confident. I ride better.”
The drill team involved 15 riders, some riding in summer and then returning to college and others coming on for the most recent ride. The riders involved ranged from nine to 18, and were from the Trail Twisters 4-H in Norquay, the Town & Country 4-H Club at Melville, Otthon Outlaws 4-H Club and the Yorkton Light Horse 4-H Club.