The smell of horses and fresh tilled dirt and hay filled the air May 24 as members of the Davis and Weber County 4-H clubs brushed and polished their four-legged friends at the 2010 English "Skooling" Horse Show.
Riders dressed in boots, button-down shirts, jeans and riding helmets met at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington at 6 p.m. to participate in several 4-H horse competition practices. Events included English and Western showmanship, Hunt Seat Equitation, Working Hunter and Hunter Hack.
The schooling shows are unique in that they are intended to give riders more experience on what to expect at a real show, plus judges also offer advice on what to fix or what went well for the riders.
Also included -- and not standard at non-4-H horse shows -- was a written test on two 4-H manuals: the horsemanship manual and the horse science manual.
"(The tests) are pretty in-depth," said Kristine Garner, mother of a Military 4-H Club member.
Garner also helped direct the show's events, and handed out competitors numbers and event information packets.
Two members of Hill's own Military 4-H Club, Ella and Nicole Southern, also attended. Unfortunately, Nicole's horse, Lucy, was injured and unable to compete with her in the event, and Ella's horse, Jett, is still learning the ropes.
Still, the Southern sisters participated by handing out ribbons to competition winners and assisting the judges. They both hope to compete in the Legacy Events Center's Open Schooling Shows, the next of which takes place on June 19.
Though they've both only been riding for a few years now, Ella and Nicole enjoy the challenges working with horses provides.
"It helps you bond to the horse and accomplish new things," Ella said.
"It's time to get away and relieve stress," Nicole added.
The two girls' interests in riding differ -- Ella prefers Western style and Nicole prefers English and Hunt Seat -- but they still find plenty of things to do with the Military 4-H Clubs' Horse Club. The Horse Club's leader, Shea Cain, is working with Ella and her horse, Jett, to teach them more about English and Hunt Seat riding and jumping.
"(The Horse Club) is pretty fun," Ella said.
Cain is working hard to teach her club's members about English riding and expand the local interest from just Western to both styles. In fact, the horse show on May 24 was the very first put on by the Davis County 4-H to feature English riding competitions. Before that, Western dominated the scene.
"We're trying to get the English program out and known," Garner added.
"I come from the East Coast where Hunt Seat riding is very predominant," Cain said as she explained her interest in English and Hunt Seat riding. "(The Horse Club members) need to have more aspects to look at."
"I have a feeling it's going to take off," she added. Three of the Horse Club members already practice and compete in the Hunt Seat style, but Cain said she heard there was a lot of interest generated at the May 24 show.
The 4-H Horse Club is open to anyone age 8-18 as of Jan. 1, 2010. You don't have to have a horse in order to join, Cain added, though members must have their own horse in order to compete in shows.
The club is lucky enough to have access to a few horses at the base stables, which allows members to see a horse up close and learn about them first-hand.
The Horse Club meets every other Tuesday at the base stables at 5:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for June 8.
The club also plans to take part in another horse show in July, though a specific date and time is to be determined.
Cain encourages anyone with an interest in horses and riding to try the club out. "You learn a lot -- not just about horses -- but about team building and leadership skills, and you make new friends in any 4-H club," she said.
"I'm giving children an opportunity to do something that they wouldn't normally get to do," she added. "There's not many people who can say 'I competitively ride horses.'"
To find out more about the Legacy Events Center schooling shows, please visit http://www.co.davis.ut.us/events_center/default.cfm.
For more information on the 4-H Horse Club, please contact Shea Cain at email@example.com or by phone at (814) 599-8519.