June 11, 2003 | By: Laura Skillman

Inside the exposition area, 4-H members and their horses blended together in a scene reminiscent of a western movie. But this was serious business.

More than 130 youth from 17 western Kentucky counties recently spent three days learning horsemanship skills in the saddle and the barn.

This is the 26th year for the West Kentucky 4-H Horse Camp, according to Sheena Thomas-Brown, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service 4-H/youth development agent for Livingston County.

There are 132 students, 107 adults, 15 instructors, and a 21-member volunteer committee that puts it all together with the assistance of three 4-H agents.

“Horse projects are extremely popular,” she said. “It is good education. We have a real focused audience for an entire weekend that isn’t doing anything but looking at horses and talking horses and dealing with horses. It’s very hands on.”

Earl Davis, treasurer of the committee, said the program saw tremendous growth last year and will probably hold steady for the next few years. Children ages eight to 19 are eligible for the camp, with the median age about 14.

“I was involved 26 years ago as a student with the very first one,” he said. “It was held on a game preserve about two miles from my house. My children became involved about five years ago and we’ve gotten back into to it.

“It takes lot of hours and volunteers but it’s worth it, Davis said. “My son, when we left last year, was counting the days to this year. They really look forward to it. They make friends with people from all over the western part of the state. It gives them the chance to meet some kids they wouldn’t meet otherwise.”

The program is designed to interest children whether they show horses or trail ride, or just ride on the farm. There’s something for everyone. Contest horses, western pleasure, hunt seat, gaited and walking horses are all represented. It takes quite an effort to get instructors for all the categories, he said.

Rachel Talent, 13-year-old 4-Her from Calloway County, attended her fourth camp.

“I think it is fun, you get to meet people I wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for this, and have fun riding your horse,” she said.

Brittany Fuqua, 14, also a Calloway County 4-H member, was attending for the second year.

“It’s fun and you learn stuff that you wouldn’t learn just out on your own,” she said. “Also, you get to experience how a show would be like if you haven’t done it before.”

A veterinarian and farrier were on hand to discuss health care and animal soundness. Saddle care, stall cleaning and crafts also were a part of the daily regimen. Equitation Games and a show/demonstration rounded out the weekend.



Sheena Thomas-Brown, 270-928-2168