ATVs Can't Replace Horses at State 4-H Expo


In a farm landscape dominated by GPS driven tractors and smaller all–terrain vehicles, some farmers and ranchers still do things the old fashioned way on horseback.

The Los Angeles Times calls them the "Japanese quarter horse". Many farmers and ranchers can't imagine life without ATVs. But folks at the State 4-H Horse Expo say there's something special about horses.

"I think it's just that bond you get with a horse, you don't necessarily get with other animals," Dr. Lena Cottle explained.

Alyssa Waits knows that feeling.

"I ride three times a day for three hours," she explained.

Life on the cattle ranch near North Platte also requires a literal workhorse.

Waits said, "We move from pasture to pasture. In April we branded calves. (On horseback)? Yeah."

Hundreds of kids are showing off the skills learned at the ranch at the State 4–H Horse Expo.
Horse–drawn wagons and plows were replaced generations ago. Now even ranchers are changing with the times.

Cottle, an Extension Horse Specialist said, "There are a lot that have gone to using ATVs and those type of things because they don't want to mess with horse that isn't always behaving, but there are still a lot of people that want to do it the old fashioned way and want to have horses out there. And depending on terrain, ATVs can't go as many places as horses can."

Emily Keiser of Gothenburg said of her horses, "Sometimes we round up cattle with them."

Farm kids like Emily use horses once in a while on the farm, but even they mostly ride for pleasure and competition.

"Horses are judged on how they move, walk, trot, and lope," she said.

Some are workhorses, others are show horses. Some are ridden by city kids, others on the ranch. But Lena Cottle says all kids learn life lessons from working with their horse.

Cottle said, "It's a humbling sport because you're not always going to win."

The state horse show features a variety of events, from showmanship to calf–roping.