Michigan Horse Council

Promoting and Protecting the Horse Industry Since 1973

Western Heritage Equine Program

The Western Heritage Equine Program is currently signing up qualifying students to explore the equine industry at the 2018 Michigan Horse Expo. This program has the full support of the Michigan Horse Council. To learn more about this program, visit them on Facebook or give Tammy a call at (989) 213-7817.

Here is a little about the program.

The Western Heritage Program offers three options for students: 1) Elementary Student Program (grades 2nd-4th) from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm The age group is zoned in on 2nd-4th graders to keep our presentations for the day within one basic learning group. Younger or older students would require a different presentation from our speakers. On occasion we do have some small groups that may be included, but the program is generally zoned in on students who are typically ages 6-9 years old. A four hour action-packed program fits this age group well. Elementary schools contact the MI Horse Council via a member or volunteer to see if their students can join in on the program. The elementary program is a fuller package to engage the school students on a variety of academic levels. School assemblies are offered to the 2nd – 4th graders who are participating at the Expo. The school assemblies are run on Friday afternoons in October and November when the weather is better for transportation of any animals, equipment and the many volunteers who help. The assemblies begin with a large group meeting. Members from the Three Outlaws and a Good Guy band entertain the children with three songs. The Chisholm Trail song is always included as part of the historical teaching abt the cattle drives and for the fun “Ti-Yi-Yippe” chorus the kids enjoy singing. Introductions of the volunteers are given so the kids can see that these cowboys and cowgirls are from all over the state of MI and have driven there to share a special passion of theirs specifically with these students. The volunteers also share how they are involved in the horse industry which gives the students a wider perspective of the various careers and competitions to choose from. Volunteers then head to their stations for final preparations while I talk to them about the hands-on activities they will enjoy. The stations include:

  • Mini horse to pet and learn about feed, bedding, nutrition and grooming
  • Roping – a handful of dummies are set up for the kids to practice roping w/ guidance from student or professional ropers
  • Barrel racing and pole bending -the girls share with the students how their horse is an athlete, has to be fed and exercised properly and use protective gear to stay safe
  • Bull and bronc riding – the boys emphasize safety, proper education before trying this competition, appreciating the livestock, safety equipment, the team of cowboys in the arena who keep them safe
  • Steer wrestling – the art of flying off a horse to stop a steer for veterinary or branding purposes
  • Chuckwagon and cattle drive – Rayments have handouts and posters showing historical cattledrives, dress in authentic gear, have designed their wagon to have authentic equipment from the cattle drives and set up a fire for cooking – they teach about the historical impact of cattle drives – how cities were developed along the trails which later became railroads, how cowboys spent their days and nights, what it was like to cook on the trails (no fast food), teamwork, etc.
  • Royalty – the girls talk about their horses, training with their horses for the competitions, training for public speaking, parade work, special events, learning how to travel and stay with host families
  • Equipment station – students get a chance to sit on a saddle, pick it up to feel the weight, learn about equipment and develop an eye of what to look for when they attend the Horse Expo.

The volunteers at the stations coordinate a fun and educational hands-on experience for the students and school staff which interweave in history, math, reading and writing as is applicable to their particular topic. We close the program with a large group session. Our musicians play another three songs including our Chisholm Trail which they enjoy singing to even more now that they can join in easier. I get the students feedback about their favorite activities and ask about what they learned. We thank our volunteers. I introduce the academic competition to them letting them know that some teachers will participate as a class or each student can choose to compete. I also talk about two important and crucial things to remember when they visit the Expo:

  • Good manners always used because these volunteers are offering us their time, talent and animals and
  • Safety – students are to pet only horses in the small animal area, never to go inside a stall with a horse, be mindful when you hear “horse coming” and always obey your small group leader’s directions.

These school presentations are educational but also relationship building times. Several of these volunteers will also be at the Expo which helps the students feel more at ease quickly, better prepared to learn more and appreciate what they are seeing (like pieces of the puzzle coming together) which engages the students and decreases common field trip behavioral challenges. * Academic competitions are held for each grade level. The students compete against the other schools for prizes awarded at the Expo. The three competitions are artwork, cowboy poetry and a one-page essay about something in the world of horses. The students work is displayed at the Expo and their home schools. Awards are given just prior to the MiHSRA Rodeo on Friday night of the Expo. The students ride out in the bed of the 6-horse hitch and are presented their awards by queens from various horse associations. These awards are presented to the students before a large crowd and the winners families all receive free tickets to be there on Friday night.

2.) Special small groups (students or adults) are hosted from 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm. Among our team of educational volunteers are therapeutic riding instructors from all areas in MI. These teachers are a tremendous blessing as they work with our students and adults to provide a program suited to their groups possibilities on Friday afternoon as they explore the Expo. Often times our school teachers, staff and parents learn more about the benefits of therapeutic riding and the provisions that can be made through insurance programs to further benefit those in need.

3.) After school programs include Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, After School and Youth Groups. These students enjoy the large group meeting, cowboy music, educational and hands-on experiences at various stations and then a large group closing with fun music. These groups often like to stay for the evening to shop after our presentation They can also attend the 7 pm Mi High School Rodeo where they will see their peers competing in the arena putting to use the skills they have just been learning about. Arrangements can be made for these groups to order in pizza and eat in a classroom prior to the rodeo if desired.

* All students (from the three programs listed above) receive : Free bandana ~ each student, parent and school staff member is given a colored bandana to keep. This bandana also serves our Western Heritage program to color code their groups as they are visiting and touring the Expo. Tom’s Western Store coupon 4 free rodeo tickets ~ the MSU Rodeo in Feb, MiHSRA Rodeo @ Expo, MiHSRA State Finals in June & the MLBRA State Finals in July Expo experience ~ the student’s wristband given to them during their time at the Expo is good for the entire Friday program. All of the Western Heritage programs are scheduled activities so this wristband allows them to take advantage of special performances, classes, shopping and the rodeo on their own time. Gift bags ~ donations are received from a variety of equestrian organizations and businesses for the kids to enjoy and learn more about the world of horses. These gift bags are our tool through the Mi Horse Council as an opportunity to teach the students and their families about horse information and opportunities to learn more about ways they can further their knowledge and skills in the horse industry (for example: a free riding lesson at Sundance Stables, an informational sheet about 4H programs, MIHA or Pony Club). The Western Heritage program is the first learning step. The gift bags and resources accumulated through the Expo experience are the second step. Who knows where these connections may lead our future horsemen and women!

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