Adam and Robin were in 4H for a couple years. We thought it would be a good lesson to own, take care of, and show their horses. We found a great little 4H club with a couple great leaders. They taught the kids all the fundamentals of caring for and competing with their animals.
For the Christmas Parade all the kids decorated their horses by braiding their manes and tails. They had matching saddle blankets, red bows on the tails, and bells woven into their mane braids. It was lots of fun. None of the kids had trouble controlling their animals and everyone successfully finished the parade. When the kids were taking the saddles off the horses and loading them for the ride home a man dressed like a cowboy came up to us half-way scolding the kids telling them they should never tie bells to a horse. He said they would surely be uncontrollable. I always thought that was funny since it was at the end of the parade and the kids, as well as the horses, had finished the parade without a problem.
We also took Adam and Robin to some gymkhana events where they, along with their horses, would compete with kids from other clubs. Our leader insisted our kids do all the work. They had to load and unload their own horse, they had to groom and saddle their own horse, they had to scrape the manure out of the horse shoes themselves, and they had to warm up and ride their own horse.
Our horses were pets not thoroughbreds. Our kids loved their horses. Unfortunately they competed with kids who did nothing but show up at the edge of the ring when their animals were prepped and ready. They’d mount their animal, compete, and dismount handing the reigns to either a parent or someone who worked for their parent.
Fortunately our kids learned a lot in 4H about animal care, unfortunately they also learned sometimes people who cheat also win. It was very discouraging to me to watch them compete in such an unfair setting. Even so, they did each manage to win a few ribbons during those years.