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Taylor Neal, Event Coordinator for the City of Tupelo, was clearly pleased with the success of the event. “As a part of Mayor Shelton’s platform for health and wellness in Tupelo, Mississippi, the idea of Horsing Around was brought about to touch the lives of children in Lee County with horses. In an effort to extend knowledge of what is available to our community, and to provide a mental and physical outlet for our youth, Horsing Around gave students ages 7-14 the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a horse owner. Through crafts, hayrides, and one-on-one interactions with horses, a new found love was established in the eyes of these children. ‘This is the best day since I was born,’ I heard one child exclaim while making crafts. Another youngster agreed, ‘I think this is heaven.’ Many new friendships were developed within each age group and the City of Tupelo plans to make this an annual event to support overall well-being for Tupelo,” she wrote.
Horse safety was the key lesson of the day. There were a lot of good questions from the participants and the Brewer Equestrian Center staff gave them their best, knowledgeable answers. “We did clear up some misconceptions,” said Kim Head, owner of Brewer Equestrian Center. “For example, we explained that we do not consider horses to be our pets or livestock, but they are our partners. We explained that each of them has a lot of personality. We told the history of each horse who was being used in riding and for ground lessons. The majority of the kids had never even petted a horse before! They enjoyed the way our horses and ponies interacted with them – even the cynical teenagers!”
Kim Head continued to describe the events of the day: “We explained a lot of horse-related terms to them, like the difference between the terms, foal, filly, colt, gelding, stallion, and mare. We showed them how to measure a horse’s height and how to groom a horse. Then we let them all take a turn at grooming a horse.
“We emphasized how to approach a horse safely. We explained that most horse-related injuries are due to human error, so they learned how to walk safely behind and around a horse. They also learned about helmet safety.
“We explained how horses love to hear the sound of our voices. Several students felt so accomplished when they realized that our horses were responding to their voices and their directions, both in saddle and not in saddle. At lunch time, they got to see some of our more advanced students ride and jump a course of fences on horseback.
“All this information made the horses seem a lot less scary to them, and they recognized the necessity for knowledge and understanding when being around horses.
“Parents and the visiting children were all impressed with how our younger students, some of whom have only been riding since May, were able to teach/instruct proper grooming, care, and beginner riding positions. They were impressed with how well our students could tack up a horse/pony. Of course, they required help sometimes getting the girth tight or the bit set, but, most importantly, they knew how to do it and how to do it safely.
“We explained the joys of horse sports and life with horses. We demonstrated how great it is to grow and learn at your own pace; that every day is a new day and brings a new experience,” Kim summarized. She said the inaugural event was quite successful and she hopes it will become an annual tradition.
Find more information about Brewer Equestrian Center at: http://brewerequestriancenter.webs.com/. For more information about Horsing Around in Lee County, visit their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1533744086840451/?ref=22
(Photos by: Arylle Waters, student of digital photography at Tupelo High School)
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