“I’ve Never Been to a Farm Before”

 

You never know when you are going to be presented with the opportunity to allow someone to interact with animals for the first time. This opportunity found me this past weekend, which has led me to write this post. Friday morning, I get a phone call from my oldest sister who was babysitting for one of her friends. She was babysitting a 6-year old boy named Landon who has not had much experience with farm animals. My immediate response was, “Well bring him on over!”

Landon was really wanting to ride a horse. He had only been on a horse a few other times when he was younger, and had never had the opportunity to ride by himself. He was so excited when we told him that he could ride one of our horses…all by himself. Since this was such a big deal for this little boy, I let him do everything. He went into our tack room and chose a halter (he chose the green one because it was his favorite color). He then walked into the pasture with me to catch “his horse.” He was going to ride Hollywood, our 20-year old Paint gelding that my family holds very dear to our hearts. I would trust this horse with any

body, which made him the perfect mount for Landon.

I went back to the barn and got Hollywood all saddled up. During this time, Landon was asking me several questions about horses and the tack. He was so excited to ride a horse that he could barely stand it. I took him to our arena and got him on ole’ Hollywood. The look on that boy’s face was absolutely priceless. He rode for about 20 minutes, smiling and laughing the whole time. This would be something he would never forget…

Landon and Hollywood

After Landon had left, I got to thinking about kids and people who never had the opportunity to ride a horse, touch a cow or even step foot onto a farm. This led me to think about how important it is for us (agvocates, farm owners, livestock owners, etc.) to educate those who are not familiar with “farm life.” Allow them to pet/touch our animals. Allow them to ask questions. This is the most efficient way of spreading the word about agriculture, so don’t waste opportunities to do so! If you are exhibiting animals at a show or parade, allow people to interact with them and you! It is up to us to educate them about agriculture, livestock and farming in general.

If you are like me, you often forget how many are out there who are so uneducated when it comes to agriculture and our animals. It makes me be even more thankful to be a farmer’s daughter and an agvocate!!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and allow people like Landon interact with animals on your farm!

Until next time…

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Equestrian Team. What?

Since my blog is dedicated to my “AGventures,” I decided to dedicate this post to something that makes up a large portion of my college life. That something is showing horses in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) with the Missouri State Equestrian Team. Many people have never heard of this, so I thought it would be helpful if I wrote more about it. I want to share my experiences to not only tell my story, but to encourage you to look more into this activity.

My journey with the equestrian team began my freshman year of college. I did not even know it existed until one of my friends told me about it my first week on campus. Eager to learn more, I drove to Missouri State’s Pinegar Arena to see what this equestrian team was all about. As soon as I walked into the arena, I was hooked. I joined that day, and have never looked back.

The equestrian team competes in stock horse (western) and hunt seat (english) shows. Shows are sanctioned by the IHSA and competitions are held throughout the fall and spring semester. I decided to compete in the western shows, since that is what I had done my entire life. Practices are held four days a week, and members are expected to come to at least two. Shows are held at universities across the region. Students do NOT have to have their own horse, and travel expenses are mostly paid for. Riders are placed in divisions based on their horse showing experience. At shows, horses are provided by the university where they are hosted. The horses are placed in the division, and are chosen by drawing numbers from a hat. Riders are given no chance to warm up and are judged based on horsemanship. This allows for a very unique and challenging experience. Riders are awarded points based on their placings. They then are given the opportunity to compete in post-season shows if they meet the point requirements, where they can work to make it to the national competition.

This is a very brief overview of what the IHSA offers, and how the Missouri State Equestrian Team works. I could write several posts about this topic; however I will save that for a later date. As you can see, this is an activity that I am very fond of. I have devoted hours of time over the past few years in order to be successful and to become a better horseman. By being on the Missouri State Equestrian Team, I have developed more as a person and have become a much better rider. I encourage you to look more into this program if you enjoy horseback riding. You will learn so much and be given opportunities to show horses of all kinds at several different places across the country. It has added so many “AGventures” in my life that I will never forget!

www.ihsainc.com

http://missouristate.collegiatelink.net/organization/horsemans-association/

The World From the Back of a Horse

When I have four days off from school, it almost always means me spending as much time as possible riding my horses. This past weekend was no exception. With the fantastic February weather we have been having here in southwest Missouri, I could not help but spend time riding my Quarter Horse gelding around my family’s farm.

As I was riding across our fields, I could not help but take in everything around me. It was very peaceful which gave me the perfect opportunity to do some thinking. I could not help but think about how truly blessed and fortunate I was to be able to soak up the sun while riding a horse. From where I was riding, I could see my family’s farmstead, which made me think how lucky I was to have the opportunity to grow up on a dairy farm. At that particular moment, I made the realization that life is SO good.

It is truly amazing how riding a horse can give me an entire different perspective on life. For a while, I was away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the stress that school puts on me. All I was focused on was my horse and our surroundings. It gave me the chance to really appreciate farm and country life, as well as all the small things we all tend to take for granted.

To some, this post may seem cliche’. However for me, it serves as an eye-opener for a number of reasons. First of all, with all the stress I am under from school, I really need to spend more time riding my horse to get away from it. Secondly, it is truly a blessing to grow up in a rural environment. Not everyone gets to have moments like these, which is really a shame. Lastly, I truly am a lucky woman who is blessed beyond measure.

If you are having a stressful week or just need to get away from the world’s problems, I urge you to go saddle a good horse and just go for a ride. Let your mind wander, relax and leave your worries behind for a while. You will most likely see life in an entirely new perspective all while sitting on the back of a horse.

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