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Home News-Telegram News Jess and Nancy Lamphere open their ranch to teach 4-H youths horsemanship

Jess and Nancy Lamphere open their ranch to teach 4-H youths horsemanship

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Jess and Nancy Lamphere opened their farm this spring to Hopkins County 4-H to share her passion for horses and his love of the working cowboy lifestyle with local youngsters.

“Our purpose is to have fun with horses with a focus on safety. Consistent attendance is required for safety purposes,”  noted Nancy Lamphere, who grew up outside Detroit, Mich., loving horses but whose exposure to them was mostly limited to a few summer camps until after she married Jess Lamphere, who grew up with working horses in West Texas among a ranching family.

The goal of the HC 4-H Horsemanship Program was to work on ground level requirements, that is safety around horses and basic horse knowledge.

Essentially, the program is divided into three levels: ground level, walk-trot and walk-trot-canter. Each level involves mastering specific skills, horse knowledge, and requires the kids to research and give a presentation on any  horse-related topic. They start at the basic level of getting the horse ready, including saddling up, warming up, cooling down and taking care of them afterward. They learn to be safe while riding, and are required to wear helmets. They work up to walk and trop, then cantering, as well as going around, through and over obstacles such as bridges and fences.

They have to know basic ground work such as catch and halter, lead, tie, grooming, saddle placement, saddling, bridling and fitting, and tack safety. They also work on basic horse knowledge which can range from colors, markings, body parts, saddle parts, bridle parts, bits and breeds to the nature of the horse, gaits, knots,  and height and weight measurements.

The program requires a commitment by both 4-H members and their parents. Adults who are skilled and have a working knowledge of horses help set up; those who don’t are asked to pay attention so they can work with their children at home to enforce the skills they learn at the Lampheres’ Honey Ridge Farm in Dike.

“This is not a drop-off and pick up later program,” Lamphere said. “If parents know something about horses, we need them to stay and help. If parents don’t know anything about horses, they need to stay and learn.”

Both Lampheres said that the most important thing for them is safety, but they also focus on development of the relationship between horse and rider, as well as character development for the 4-H member.

While the program is designed to teach kids the basics of horsemanship with emphasis on safety, its also largely about “what horses do for kids,” Lamphere said. “Some people start colts, we start kids.”

“Our son Justin is not a sports kid — he’s more quiet and reserved than our others. With this we found something he can really get into,” said Angela Bearden of her son Justin, who was working out Friday morning with a horse named Skip during the last Horsemanship Program session for the summer.

“We’ll definitely continue with this,” said Cindi Nellis, whose son Sean  works with horse Boots in the program. “It’s helped him with his confidence and confidence in the horse. It’s an exceptionally good program. We feel real fortunate to be here.”

Kelly Hoffman said the program has been great for her and her daughter Cheyenne. Hoffman’s husband Danny, who loved horses and outdoors activities, was killed about 5 1/2 years ago in a horse-riding accident. Hoffman, however, admits she grew up more of a “girly girl” and wasn’t as knowledgeable in equestrian pursuits as her husband. And, despite Cheyenne’s love of all animals, particularly horses, they don’t own one – why have a horse if the responsible adult doesn’t know how to properly take care of it beyond the basics?

That’s what made the 4-H Horsemanship Program a perfect fit for both Hoffman and Cheyenne. They’re not required to have their own horse to participate, and it’s also helped teach them both the basics of horsemanship, including caring for and getting it ready.

Already familiar with the Lampheres from riding lessons offered previously, the Hoffmans readily signed on for the horsemanship class which finished with five participants and their parents.

“When we learned this was staring we were excited. She’s learned on their horses, Mick and Ringo. Horses – it’s all she talks about. I feel comfortable with this program,” Hoffman said confidently, noting her hesitation to be involved with horses following her husband’s death.

The HC 4-H Horsemanship Program session began in March and finished up Friday. Awarded certificates for passing the ground level work at the end of the class were Josh Couch and Jake Couch, son of Tim and Beverly Couch; Justin Bearden, son of Stoney and Angela Bearden; Cheyenne Hoffman, daughter of Kelly and the late Danny Hoffman; and Sean Nellis, son of Bob and Cindi Nellis. The Lampheres plan to resume the free program for 4-H members ages 9-18 in September.

For more information about the 4-H Horsemanship Program, contact Jess and Nancy Lamphere at 903-945-3293 or Juli Hutchins at the County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.




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