Owning, training and caring for a 4-H or FFA project typically isn’t one of the “cool” things to do these days. While most young girls are focused on vampire movies and boy bands, Kinsey Ayres is focused on Kramer and Mr. Big. Those aren’t TV characters, nor are they rock bands, Kramer and Mr. Big are horses, her mom’s horse (Kramer) and hers (Mr. Big).
There is a lot of sacrifice in taking on a project like a 4-H horse, but the benefits for Kinsey have been huge. Her mom, Sherry Ayres refers to it as poop therapy, in relation to Kinsey’s daily stall cleaning. “She was very shy and timid prior to getting into riding, she’s gained so much confidence in working with this 1400 pound animal, it’s amazing,” says Kinsey’s mother.
Working with a horse isn’t just about walking out, jumping on the horse and going for a ride. It’s all about responsibility and caring for your animal. Twelve-year old Kinsey has to feed her horse, water it, clean the stall, turn it out to pasture, bring it back to the dry lot, exercise it, oh and then it gets down to working with it on classes ranging from showmanship to reigning and dressage.
Ayers is no stranger to ranches, her mom recalls driving a tractor during hay season with Kinsey riding along in a backpack as a baby. Now, while other kids her age are sleeping, swimming, playing games or whining about being bored, she, like many others involved in 4-H and FFA, is helping irrigate, haying and working with her animal.
Responsibility and work ethic aren’t the only benefit of 4-H and FFA, it’s also about relationships, both with the animal and other members. “I’ve made so many friends through horses,” says Kinsey. “They’re easy to talk to and we have things in common.”
The other benefit is the companionship an animal brings. Kinsey has learned that well this year, “when you’re having a hard time and things are tough, being with my horse gives me a chance to get away from everything.” Her mom has seen the same thing as Kinsey has been dealing with severe Gastroparesis, “Kinsey has had a lot of challenges this year, being in 4-H and working with her horse makes her feel like a normal kid.” Gastroparesis causes the muscles of the stomach and intestines to not function normally.
We first learned about Kinsey through a facebook post by Heather Thrapp Mauck of Eagle Point, who has been giving her lessons for three years. Mauck said that, “Kinsey has a passion for horses and she works very hard at accomplishing her goals. She is blessed with a family who is very supportive and encouraging of her love for horses.”
Kinsey has had a very productive fair. She won Reserve Champion of Champions in Reining for all Ages (they do not have divisions for Jr, Int. or Sr.), Champion Jr. A Showmanship, Champion Jr. A Hunt Seat Equitation and Champion Jr. A Western Equitation. But her focus isn’t all about competing, even while having a very successful year she has a great view of it all, “fair is such a big deal, with all the build-up and everything, but it still has to be fun.”
It’s no surprise that Kinsey has future plans that involve animals, she’d like to attend Oregon State University to become an Equine Vet.By
For the Independent