By Dakota Hilburn
A group of horse-loving students gathered at the Kansas State Fairgrounds for a horsemanship class April 7.
As the class started up, some participants rode around the arena to get their horses warmed up. As they rode, other students in the class finished getting their horses brushed, saddled and ready to go.
The classes were held in the open-sided arena in the Horse Exhibition Center.
Karen Baehler, the instructor for horsemanship and also economics, gave advice and tips to those in the class and to a visiting reporter.
“We have a few different horses here,” Baehler said.
“We have a Missouri Fox Trotter named Blue Jeans, a western pleasure horse, and two barrel racing horses.”
During the class the group worked on speed control, hand control and over-all control.
One speed control drill included riding side by side with a partner at a trot and at a walk — and the students had to keep the same pace as the others.
They practiced going from a walk to trot in every drill to practice over-all control and everyone seemed to handle themselves very well.
The group trotted in figure eights to work on switching hands.
This skill helps with hand control, while barrel racing and other tasks.
All of the drills they practiced are designed to help the rider feel more comfortable while riding and it strengthens their riding skills.
They ended the class with breaking out some barrels and letting the students run the cloverleaf pattern a few times, to see how they handled speed, slowing down, tight turns, accelerating and then making controlled stops.
The students in this class seemed to enjoy themselves and were all smiles throughout the class.
Baehler said the class would continue on Tuesday nights throughout April and on the last evening class, they would have a cookout.
Horses for the class are supplied by local ranchers and horse hobbyists.