4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, with more than 6 million youth participating. The Virginia Cooperative Extension provides a variety of activities that emphasize 4-H’s “learning by doing” philosophy of youth development.
In 2008, Brook Hill Farm established a 4-H Horse and Pony Club for all of the United Neigh members. With the four “H’s” standing for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health, 4-H possesses more than a century of experience in youth development programming.
The 4 “H’s”
Head – Managing, Thinking
Heart – Relating, Caring
Hands – Giving, Working
Health – Being, Living
The emphasis of the horse and pony program is equine selection, nutrition, management, riding, recreation, fun and horsemanship. It has been proven that participating in 4-H horseback riding provides an outdoor sports fitness program for physical, personal, and emotional development, including confidence building. Most importantly, 4-H members pledge to build a better community, country and world for themselves and others.
The 4-H program’s positive effect on youth is astounding, and aligns directly with the goals of the United Neigh At-Risk Youth Program. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, shows youth engaged with 4-H activities are…
- Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school
- Nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college
- 40% less likely to engage in risky behaviors
- 25% more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities
Members have the opportunity to participate in:
Below is a picture of the 4-H State Show team. Look and see how many ribbons in the dressage arena!
The Saddle Club was created for children under 12 to have the whole horse experience. The youth begin by learning about grooming and handling a horse on the ground
When they are ready, they learn how to ride. This program goes at the pace of the child, taking the time to be sure they are comfortable and safe around the horses.
On rainy days, they participate in an educational program, learning all about horse care, basic horse biology, and just fun facts about horses! Below this participant was working on her horse fact book. This group meets once a week year round.