Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Horsemanship the focus of Piikani Youth winter program

Tyrone Potts
Chris Davis - Pincher Creek's Horseshoe Pavilion was filled with eager youngsters for five evenings this month as organizers of Piikani Youth Rodeo provided free horsemanship classes to anyone interested in attending.

"We're focusing this time on horsemanship, to be able to get these kids to be able to ride on their own, to know what to do if there is an emergency, or the horse does something out of the ordinary," explained organizer Tyrone Potts.  "The bigger kids are able to take a bridle off and put a halter on.  We want to teach horsemanship.  We want to get away from the rodeo program until the summertime."

"This program has been sponsored by Aakom-Kiiyii Health Services again.  The Coordinators are Lorilee and Fay North Peigan."

One focus of the program is suicide, drug, and alcohol prevention.  According to Potts, who is also an RCMP officer, "With my experience with suicide prevention, if you have one, then it's high alert for the reserve."

"What happens at the end of the program is we have a round circle talk time, we talk to everybody, and have lunch.  Everybody leaves full."

I asked Potts why he devoted so much of his personal time to these programs, including the Piikani Youth Rodeo that runs in warmer weather at the Crowlodge Arena in Brocket.  "It's a passion, and I love it, and I remember when I was a kid.  I was horse crazy, and I never had the opportunity.  I said that if I ever got the opportunity, I was going to give the kids the opportunity that I never had."

Potts and the other organizers welcome anyone who is interested in participating.  "It's for the Reserve, but if we get some town kids, they are welcome to join in as well."

Mike from the Springpoint Hutterite Colony is one one of the volunteers who has helped with many of these youth oriented events, including providing livestock. For the horsemanship classes he brought four horses, including 2 Shetland ponies. "Our kids all ride, they broke these guys, actually. They've got school, so they couldn't come," he said. "I've got another one that's the same size as this black one, but he hurt his jaw, and we're working on him. So this summer he's going to be ready to go."

"It's fun. That's how we learn, trial and error."

Mike said the Shetlands are perfect for the younger children. "They're the right size, and then the kids are a little more brave." He also appreciated being inside the still frosty Pavilion as winter raged outside. "It's nice to have this. You could hurt your horses, it's so icy to ride."

Calving has started on the Colony. "We've got about 10 calves on the ground. I work in the leather shop, and chores, just the normal stuff."

Related stories:
Piikani Youth Rodeo returns with a renewed sense of purpose

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