Orange County students attended the first-ever meeting of Boots and Bridle 4-H Club on Monday night at the T2 Arena in Orange. The purpose of the club is to educate the youth about horses and introduce new horse concepts and horsemanship. RECORD PHOTO: Lawrence Trimm

David Ball – For The Record

Though horseless carriages are everywhere one group of people in Orange County are working to ensure the art of horsemanship will stick around for a new generation.

Boots and Bridle 4-H Club is a brand new horse club in Orange County. Their first meeting was on the evening of October 19 at the T2 Arena in Orange. Fifteen students, ranging in age from 10 to 16, attended the meeting.

Most of the students were girls with one or two boys attending from Orangefield ISD, Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD, and Bridge City ISD.

Christina Ritter, County 4-H agent and organizer, said the purpose of the club is to educate the youth about horses and introduce new horse concepts and horsemanship skills. She added even those who don’t have a horse can still learn the basics.

“To bring in more youth to equine concepts and introducing them to the basics. Eventually we would like for them competing in events in horsemanship projects,” Ritter said.

The 4-H Horse Project in Texas offers activities in horsemanship, horse development, and training.

The objectives are:

1.  To attain a broad knowledge of the 4-H project and related activities as to the way they improve family and community life.

2.  Acquire life skills through project participation essential for becoming an active, skilled, productive, and responsible citizen.

3.  Adopt and apply the latest practices and research findings in the project area to everyday project experiences and work.

4.  Develop an understanding from 4-H project training and experiences which can assist you in the future for choosing and preparing for a job.

5.  Develop leadership skills that promote positive youth development.

Some of the career opportunities are: veterinarian, rehabilitation therapist, riding instructor, veterinary technician, artificial inseminator, bloodstock agent, identifier, rodeo professional, station manager, show manager, show secretary, judge, trainer farm manager, mounted police officer, breeder, hot walker, farrier, and pony person.

Life skills targeted in the horse project are:

Head- managing: Keeping records and goal setting.

Head- thinking: Service learning, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and learning to learn.

Heart- relating: Communication, cooperation, and social skills.

Hands- giving: Community service volunteering, leadership, and responsible citizenship.

Hands- working: Marketable skills, teamwork, and self-motivation.

Health- being: Self-esteem, self-responsibility, character, and self-discipline.

Health- living: Healthy lifestyle choices, stress management, disease prevention, and personal safety.

Other organizers/volunteers are: Ashlee Krebs, county agriculture agent; Ron and Becky Hutchinson, Deven Michael, and Vilyne Kepley. Ritter takes care of the management side of things such as organizing meetings, training, finances, etc. to make sure the club is working and functioning.

“We’re here for the kids,” Ritter said. “Maybe they can be a part of this later when they grow up.

“The only way these clubs can function is through the volunteers. If tit wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t function. We’re looking for volunteers. They do our leg work.”

“We’re here for the kids,” Ritter said. “Maybe they can be a part of this later when they grow up.

“The only way these clubs can function is through the volunteers. If tit wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t function. We’re looking for volunteers. They do our leg work.”

Krebs, the “horse guru” according to Ritter, and the other volunteers are hands-on and teach the students horsemanship.

“It’s a team effort,” Ritter said.

By joining the Boots and Bridle 4-H Club, students have an opportunity to participate in horse quiz bowls, attend educational presentation competitions, horse judging, in addition to learning horsemanship.

“It’s about gaining skills and competing,” she said. “There’s scholarships for seniors who have been involved in 4-H for a number of years. They can apply for a scholarship before they graduate from high school. They can use the skills they’ve gained going into college.”

There are also 4-H events throughout the state at different levels the students can grow into and participate.

Ritter said everyone has a great time at the first meeting. They’ll soon be electing officers. They also performed a safety skit and students are already learning the basics of horsemanship.

Meetings are held the same date every month at 6 p.m. on the third Monday at T2 Arena in Orange.