The 4-H Horse Project is a program in which youth are exposed to the care, handling and management of equines for the first time. Through their leaders, other 4-Hers and outside influences they are exposed to competition in numerous events in Area, State and Regional Levels. For the past two years, Area B, Alachua County, has offered Western Dressage as an Exhibition class in hopes of encouraging awareness and growth for the new event in all Areas. WDAFL was proud to sponsor class ribbons and awards for those exhibition classes. The 2017 Area B winners, both members of the Bits & Spurs 4-H Club, were Senior Natasha Holt and Junior Bonnie Price.
The next step in introducing the 4-H Program to Western Dressage was a Freestyle Exhibition at the State 4-H Horse Show in Tampa. Lynn Palm graciously performed the Western Dressage Freestyle that she and AQHA gelding Hot N Royal performed at the FEI World Cup Finals earlier this year. Adelaide Pickett, Hot N Royal’s owner, was there to cheer on Lynn and Roy as hundreds of 4-Hers, leaders, coaches and families eagerly watched. As Lynn rode through movements in Level 1, onlookers could see that Western Dressage is attainable for all breeds and levels. After her final salute, Lynn shared that she began in 4-H with the Bow Legged Bunch in Sarasota many years ago. There she learned about dressage and how it is a gradual learning progression for riders and their horses and that it will help western riders to follow simple steps in training western horses whether for dressage, ranch riding or any western disciplines.
WDAFL hopes to be represented at the State Annual 4-H Meeting in September to further influence the inclusion of Western Dressage in the state program. Additionally, WDAFL is proud to host classes for 4-H Members and all Youth in the Schooling Show at the Grand Oaks Resort Saturday, November 11 prior to the Championship Show the following day.
The future of Western Dressage is dependent upon those who continue to spread the message and introduce its benefits through new channels. The Western Dressage Association of Florida and the 4-H Horse Program and doing just that.