Youth Participants Learn How to Prepare a “Wintered” Horse for Trail Ride
Clear the cobwebs, dust off the shelves and scrub the floors – time for annual spring cleaning! Buzz the bridle path and trim the leg feathers – spring is surely here, if it is time to prepare horses for trail rides and groom them for shows.
Elmore County Co-op in Wetumpka recently held a youth grooming clinic on Saturday, March 27, 2010. The clinic was held at the Elmore County Agricultural Center and led by the Co-op’s Animal Health Specialist Ashley Tolar who works between the Elmore County Co-op in Wetumpka and Taleecon Farmers Co-op in Notasulga. An interested group of participants attended the clinic. In addition to the grooming clinic, Elmore County Co-op also offered a "March Madness" sale of 10 percent off all horse-related merchandise.
As the young participants watched with interest, Tolar showed them how to prepare a horse for a trail ride after spending most of its winter at pasture. She carefully trimmed the bridal path, moving next to the ears and finally down to the feathers on the horse’s legs. After she finished the "spring cleaning" on the horse, Tolar talked for a few minutes about the purpose of the clinic.
"When the weather starts getting nice, everyone wants to get ready to ride their horses," she said. "We at the Elmore County Co-op thought it would be helpful to hold a clinic. We offer lots of great supplies at the Co-op so folks can pick up whatever they need."
Co-op stores can order prizes for horse shows and other equestrian events. They also carry or can order blankets, coolers, halters and more in a variety of colors to get everything color-coordinated.
Tolar knows horses – she has been riding before she could even walk! By the time she was in kindergarten, she was showing horses. She participated in the Autauga County 4-H Club and continued riding during her college career at Auburn University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Economics in 2008. Tolar currently shows on the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) circuit around the Southeast. This multiple-state champion and two-time world champion makes for an excellent role model for the group of girls attending the clinic. All of the participants listened and watched intently to Tolar. Ranging from age seven to 15, it is obvious riding horses is popular for local young women. Attendees were inspired to ride as well as to properly prepare their horses after learning from Tolar. She encouraged them to each give the grooming a try as she carefully guided them. She also demonstrated how to groom a horse for the show ring.
Throughout the day, Tolar and Elmore County Co-op employee Tera Byard gave away great door prizes. From brushes to feed buckets to horse treats and more, an array of items was available for winner selection.
"We have a number of new products at the store," Byard said. "Stop by to see the new line of horse tack and grooming supplies. The items we featured at the clinic are just a sampling of what we have at the store."
The small, round goat-hair face brushes from Tail Tamers proved to be one of the popular door prizes. Other favorite door prizes were feed buckets (in hot pink and lime green!) and Co-op promotional merchandise. Elmore County Co-op and vendors sponsored the door prizes.
Fourteen-year-old participant Jessie Nichols was pleased when her name was drawn as a door prize winner. She loves horses and loves to ride. Locally, she is very active in the Autauga County 4-H Horse Club, which participates in horse judging, quiz bowls and has an equestrian drill team, the Star Spangled Stampede. Nichols was also named 2010 Junior Miss Southeastern Livestock Exposition Rodeo.
"We thought the grooming clinic was a good opportunity to come out and learn more," she said.
Her mom nodded in agreement.
With the clear, blue sky overhead, attendees later moved outside the arena and enjoyed a spring day picnic lunch sponsored by the Co-ops. The brightly-colored eight-quart feed buckets made great table-tops for two young attendees, Kayley Key, seven, and Lizzy Logsdon, eight, who won them as door prizes. Susan Swink brought Kayley to the clinic. She got her first horse when she was about 10 years old.
"I have horses," Swink said. "I thought the clinic would be a good way to get Kayley ready to ride."
Kayley smiled – she is looking forward to learning to ride Swink’s Paint horse Fancy. Lizzy is ready to ride her horse Ranger.
The warm, balmy days of spring encourage everyone to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Outdoor activities are so much more enjoyable in the spring – from gardening to baseball to riding horses. Whether you are doing a little spring cleaning or just enjoying the spring weather, check with your local Quality Co-op for your farm and garden or lawn needs. The friendly employees will be glad to answer any questions you may have and offer help as needed. And, if it is horse supplies you need, you are sure to find lots of new equestrian merchandise available at the store. Stop by the Co-op in Wetumpka or Notasulga or your local Co-op to see all the new supplies they have in stock.
"Give us a call if you need anything for your horses or horse-boarding barn," Tolar said. "If we do not have it in stock, we will be glad to order it for you."
Look for upcoming clinics and educational events offered by your local Quality Co-op. Stores throughout the state hold events to assist customers, premier products offered at the Co-op and spotlight vendors. Such clinics and events are a great way to learn more about a variety of interests.
Ashley Smith is a freelance writer from Russell County.