The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and University of Idaho 4-H Youth Development partnered this past year to offer an educational opportunity and fundraiser for Idaho 4-H horse clubs. In 2009-2010 the BLM gathered wild horses from the Owyhee and Squaw Butte herds and turned 33 foals over to 4-H members to gentle and train. The weanlings, most just 3-6 months old, were transformed by the loving care provided by 4-H members.
Supervised by club leaders, the 4-H members worked with the weanlings for five weeks. They gentled the horses to catch and halter, and taught them to wear costumes so they could be shown in holiday parades. They trained the horses to load and unload safely from a horse trailer, cross water and tarps, successfully maneuver in an in-hand trail course, pick up all feet, bathe, and much more.
The four-footed 4-Hers then transitioned to adoptive families who purchased them, with payments over $25 donated to the 4 H clubs. More than $4,500 was raised, with individual sales ranging from $125 to $775 per weanling.
Idaho 4-H members ages 12 and up from Gem, Ada, Elmore, Canyon, and Bonner counties participated in the program. The foals, initially frightened, shy, and difficult to handle, became friendly, personable horses, ready to join their adoptive families for a lifetime of love.
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