If you want to see horsemanship at its best, you will want to get acquainted with a premier organization called the “Westernaires.”
This is a highly sophisticated organization of more than 1,000 young riders, all from Jefferson County.
This group of riders from 9-19 years is supported by more than 350 adult volunteers who support and encourage these riders.
You don’t have to own your own horse, you can rent one of the about 130 owned by the Westernaires. What you do have to do is work hard, be dedicated and determined to succeed.
And it helps if you have parents who are also willing and dedicated to getting you there on Saturdays to the arenas adjacent to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
Parents also need to volunteer for some of the many chores that are necessary to keep the program alive and flourishing.
We have seen their productions over the years, mainly each year at the National Western Stockshow where they star in the grand opening ceremony. It’s worth the price of admission just to see those young riders fly around the arena at breakneck speed.
The riders are divided into three divisions and then teams within those divisions.
Our granddaughter Jessica is a member of the White Star team.
She has been with the organization now for two years. She started out as a “Tenderfoot” and graduated to the next level.
Little did I think we would have one of our own in that stellar organization.
As I stated earlier, you don’t have to have your own horse, but of course it stood to reason that Jessica would eventually want and get Reese, a paint quarter horse, who belonged to a girl who graduated out of the organization.
When Jessica was only 2 (now she’s nearing 15), I was already taking her to Pines Stable where Marilyn Cook boards about 60 horses.
Jessica knew every horse by name and she fell in love with horses at an early age. Some of those same horses are still at the barn today.
When I see these young people “fly” around the arena, it gives me both fear and pride.
Those riders learn discipline and dedication through horsemanship.
The next time you see them in a parade, give them a round of applause, they have worked hard to get to that performance level.
And if you ever get to meet Glen Keller, head of the organization, tell him “thank you” for putting on such a fine show and molding these youngsters into wholesome young citizens.
“It takes a village.” Hillary Clinton
Stay well, stay involved and stay tuned.
Vi June is past Democratic state representative for House District 35. She is a former mayor of Westminster and a former newspaper publisher. A Westminster resident for more than four decades, she and her husband, Bob, have five grown children and eight grandchildren.