University of Florida

Philosophy and Goals of the Florida 4-H Horse Program


The purpose of the 4-H horse program is to provide young people an opportunity to participate in a series of activities designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, discipline, and responsibility while creating an atmosphere for learning and awareness of the life about us.

If one takes time to study this statement, the goals and implications are awesome. It is not anticipated that a child would progress at the same rate for all these objectives; it is expected that given the proper motivation and provided good leadership by leaders, parents, and agents, there would be improvement in all areas. Many times the recognition by the 4-H'ers that they could improve in these areas is a significant accomplishment.

Most 4-H'ers electing this project will already have a significant interest in and even a passionate love for the animal. It is the leaders' responsibility to utilize this interest to accomplish the project objectives. Though the objectives may be arranged in a different order, you will notice the first objective is not horsemanship. Horsemanship, in the broadest sense, is an important facet of the 4-H horse program, but it should be understood that the horse is but a tool to be used in the development and education of the child. There are over fifty major project areas available in 4-H and all of them have as objectives to make better citizens of these youth, to increase their knowledge in a particular subject matter area, and to inspire them to explore other areas.

Horse shows are not the major objective of this program, and any leader or agent that professes this, either out of actual belief or to persuade someone to join a 4-H club, is certainly in error. In doing this, they would most certainly be setting themselves and the club up for disappointment and possible failure. This is not to minimize the importance of horse shows in helping to achieve our goals, but it must be understood we are in the business of education. There are many opportunities to show elsewhere and, also, it is quite possible there will be many youth in a club that are not interested in showing. They may be interested in one or more of the many forms of trail riding, rodeoing, breeding and production, or other activities involving the use of a horse.

When thinking about the horse program and its objectives, one should certainly realize the potential that participation in horse judging, public speaking, and method demonstrations has in helping to achieve said goals. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas, as well as gain a better education.

In summary, there is a need for all aspects of the current 4-H horse program, and it is hoped that you as leaders and agents will encourage participation of your club in all these areas.

E. L. Johnson


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