Youth Page

The Training of Bella and Wetacchi

By Dusty Ward and Kristen Faillace, Seneca County

We are currently working on breaking our almost three year old horses. Bella is our mare and Wetacchi is our gelding. We have had them since they were one year olds.

Bella is half Paint and half Tennessee Walker. She is sneaky and likes to get into mischief.  I can’t tell you how many times she got under the fence (but not since my dad put electric fence around the yard).   Wetacchi is a Paint, and he’s just a little taller than Bella. He is very loveable – they both are.

We have been doing all the ground work with them since we got them. Last summer until it got too cold we worked with Bella and Wetacchi on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school and weekends with help from a friend. They both stand good when we pick up their feet. We have done the plastic bag trick all over their body, to get them used to strange sounds, so not to get spooked. They have been in and out of the trailer lots of times and conquered that fear. We have also been lunging them.

We have also ridden them – Dusty on Wetacchi and me on Bella – only at a walk, and we have practiced backing up. But even before we got on them, they had to get used to the bit and the weight of the saddle. This spring our mission is to have them trot and even lope. Next year we hope to bring Bella and Wetacchi to the county fair.

4-H Teaches

By Nicole Ferrara, Seneca Saddle Club, Seneca County

Hi, my name is Nicole Ferrara, I am in fifth grade.

I got involved in 4-H through a friend. The year I joined, a new club formed. We are the Seneca Saddle Club. Since some of us are from different towns we agreed on Seneca because it’s our county. We are learning about caring for horses, grooming, feeding, hoof care, showmanship, and other things. We have gone on trips to different farms and learned about different breeds of horses and different training techniques. My favorite breed is the Fjord (fee-ord). My favorite thing to do with horses is ride bareback. I also feel that when you groom your horse it is a bonding experience.

I also enjoy working with dogs.  I show a dog named Bacardi, she is a Chessie (Chesapeake Bay Retriever). She is my friend’s dog. I show and help train her in novice rally, and beginner obedience. I’m also showing in grooming & handling for the first time. I have a dog of my own, her name is Dora. I don’t show her but I have worked with her.

I have done two different public presentations as a 4-Her. The first was on Fjord Ponies and the other was about Chesapeake Bay Retriever dogs. This is an opportunity to get up and speak in front of many people, I like doing that!

Horse Sense

By Jay Smith, Seneca County 4-H Alumnus

I am a 21 year-old former 4-H’er and soon-to-be college graduate of SUNY Cobleskill; I am working towards a Bachelor of Technology in Animal Science, with an Equine concentration. While I did not always know I wanted a career in equine management, I have always had a passion for horses – from the Breyer model horses and stuffed animals, to the horsey books, to the pony rides, and the farm visits.   When I was in high school I learned of and considered actually making a career out of equine science – and that is where 4-H came in.

When I was 14, I decided to join a local 4-H horse club in Ontario County. It was through the multitude of 4-H-sponsored activities – field trips, riding lessons, demos, lectures, fair booths, public presentations – that I became immersed in equine knowledge. I continued my 4-H experience as an independent member in Seneca County, where I joined the Horse Bowl and Hippology teams, which took me through county and state competitions. As I neared the end of my high school career, I had become much more aware of the potential that lay behind my interest in horses; my 4-H experience, albeit short, was compelling. Using the combined resources of my high school guidance office and of the local 4-H extension offices, I made the decision to attend the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at SUNY Cobleskill, to major in Animal Science with an Equine concentration. During my three years at Cobleskill, I was taught the knowledge and skills to build a solid career upon my interest in horses. I am currently performing my internship on a Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm in Kentucky, upon completion of which I will receive my degree.

4-H afforded me the knowledge, experiences, and life skills that I use to this day.  I’m grateful to have had the experiences to gain skills in leadership, teamwork, dedication, integrity, and compassion for animals and humans alike.

Moooving to the Beat of the Cow

By Lexi & Kelly Thompson, Seneca County

We live on Canoga Spring Farm in Seneca Falls where we have a dairy farm with 350 milking Holstein cows and 350 heifers and calves.  Having grown up on a farm, we have a love of all animals, especially cows and horses, and of course, dogs and cats.  We especially like showing calves at our county fair through our 4-H program.  We enjoy caring for the calves and during show season take extra care to brush, clip, wash, and teach them to lead.  We have learned from past 4-H members, now adults, the proper way to lead and show our calves for showmanship.

The 4-H program gives kids an opportunity to participate in many activities that they otherwise may not have had a chance to do.   For example, kids who don’t own any cattle can “borrow” a calf from our farm to show in the 4-H show.

It is a lot of work, but also fun and something we enjoy.  We have learned much responsibility from working with and showing our calves.

Hopping Down the Rabbit Trail

By Charles “Chaz” Hardin, Independent Member, Seneca County

I have loved rabbits all my life and for the past 11 years the 4-H has given me the opportunity to grow my goals in the project.  I started out with just a rabbit for a pet, and then found out that you could actually show rabbits at shows just like dogs.  This inspired me to not only get a few more rabbits, but actually show some of them at a local rabbit club show in Orleans County. After about 9 years, I am still going to that same show and enjoying my hobby and all my friends at the show.  Without the guidance of my 4-H leaders in my county and from others my hobby wouldn’t be possible.

After a few years just showing at 4-H shows, my interest in showing rabbits grew to where I wanted to go to a rabbit show every weekend.  To do this I would have to go into a new showing system.  There was a ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) rabbit show coming Seneca Falls that I really wanted to go to.  I ended up bringing a few of my rabbits that did very well at the 4-H shows and I thought I would really do good at an ARBA show.  But that wasn’t the case. Instead my rabbits didn’t do well.  I was blown out of the water, but I got back up and started to talk to the rabbit breeders with the rabbits that beat mine.  4-H has taught me to learn from other people to better myself and in this case, my rabbits.  I talked to a breeder that raised the breed that I had and asked them a few questions that I needed to know and ended up getting a few rabbits from them to start my foundation.  After talking to the breeder, I learned many things that were taught to them by their 4-H leaders.  And pretty much all the people that I talked to that day started raising rabbits from 4-H and have learned just like I was doing.

From raising a few rabbits when I got started, my rabbitry now consists of about 200 holes – filled at any given time.  I have shown my rabbits at many of the 4-H and ARBA shows in all corners of the state and have even traveled to other states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Kentucky, and even San Diego, California.  With the leadership and help from my county and other neighboring counties, I have grown into a very active member in the New York State Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Association, and the specific rabbit breed clubs.  I have used my experiences and leadership skills that I have learned being an active member of 4-H to teach and help others that need the guidance and knowledge that I have already received.  I am the current Vice-President of the New York State Rabbit Breeders Association, and am running for Director of the Tan rabbit club for District 7.  I have realized over the years that all the information that I learned through my 4-H experiences has only made me a better person to my love of the hobby and a better person in the county, state, country, and my world.

The following link is for the New York Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Association website:  For any questions, you can contact anyone on the contact page, including me, Charles Hardin (Vice-President), and please feel free to contact me for any type of questions that you may have.

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