By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse JournalJuly 6, 2012
AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates of Pueblo, Colorado, talks about horses July 6 at Battle in the Saddle in Oklahoma City. (Larri Jo Starkey photo). For more photos, scroll to the bottom.
If you had never smelled a horse, you might say, “ew.”
And that’s just what about 40 children from St. Eugene Catholic School Summer Camp said when they arrived July 6 at Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City.
But it wasn’t long before the “ews” turned into “oohs.”
They watched roping and ranch sorting with growing enthusiasm, then a couple of cowboys heard about their dearest wish.
“Before we came, they wanted to see a cowboy, talk to a cowboy and pet a horse,” said Annie Swink, director of extended care at St. Eugene. “This is a whole new experience. They’re really enjoying it.”
Two cowboys came over to talk to them: AQHA Professional Horseman J.D. Yates of Pueblo, Colorado, brought a roping horse over for the children to meet.
“This is my school horse,” J.D. said, turning the sorrel around to show off his brand. “Do you know why I call him my school horse? Because if you’ll look back here, he got an A+ in school.”
The children oohed some more as each one came up individually to have a photo made with a real cowboy and a real horse.
Some bravely learned how to pick up a foot, while others only stroked a nose and retreated.
About that time, Natalie Johnson of Phoenix, Arizona, one of the competitors in the World’s Greatest Horseman Shootout representing the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, also wandered past and started talking with the children. It wasn’t long before a group gathered around her, too.
“This is definitely a different experience for them,” Annie said. “It’s a different field trip than they normally are used to. They are loving it.”
The class left for lunch, but the day wasn’t over. There was more roping and sorting to watch.
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