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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Horse Day at UCD draws 4-H youth

It is 10:30 a.m. and a group of young kids surrounds a brown mare – female horse – who stands waiting next to a sonogram machine.

“Now her ovaries are the size of large lemons!” said Joel Viloria, UCD Equine Facilities adviser, to the group whose cameras begin flashing.

This past Saturday at the Cole Facility Horse Barn, 4-H members ranging in age from eight to 18 years old came from all over California to participate in the Statewide 4-H Equine Field Day.

Viloria led a demonstration about equestrian artificial insemination to a group of 4-H students no taller than the horse’s haunches at Saturday’s field day.

4-H began in 1902 with small clubs devoted to making “public education more connected to country life,” said the 4-H website.

Today, more than six million members are committed to citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology by following its 4-H’s motto of using your “Head, Heart, Hands and Health.”

Saturday’s day-long event which lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. provided 4-H members and participants with a wide array of fun and educational opportunities hosted by UC Davis’s Department of Animal Science.

“They get a good educational experience,” said Christine Haas, president of the Rodeo Club, who showed off her Gymkahana runs – an event where riders and horses display techniques and skills.

The day began with a welcome assembly and consisted of a full schedule of tours, presentations on equine nutrition and dentistry, a barbeque lunch and wagon rides.

Jeanne George, the state 4-H equine educational advisor, said around 350 participants came to the event, including a group from Los Angeles.

For many of the 4-H participants, a love for animals and, of course, horses is a special passion.

“I like just being around horses,” said Christine Fry, a seventh grader from Madora County and active member of 4-H and a junior leader.

Allison Cuellar, a recent high school graduate and 10-year 4-H veteran, agreed that many of the young 4-H members are very involved with animals.

But the same passion and commitment to horses could be seen in many of the volunteers, students and presenters as well.

“My parents put me on a horse before I could walk,” said Haas, a senior molecular and cell biology major.

This year’s event included a special presentation by the California Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team which mostly consisted of past and present 4-H members.

“It’s an opportunity to show what you can do with your love of horses,” said George, who has been a member of 4-H for more then 37 years.

Led by Captain Sara Curtis, the drill team entertained the audience with their energy and performance.

The day ended with a presentation of horse training techniques by world-renowned trainer Charles Wilhelm and kids walking away with dirty boots and a greater understanding of horses.

JESSY WEI can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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