Teen tests her skills in the saddle
Kayden Singpiel has been in a saddle since she was 3 months old.
Singpiel got involved in 4-H by following her sister, Elli. As each year progresses, Singpiel has learned more advanced techniques and how to better control a horse.
Riding a horse and being able to control it is not something that happens all at once.
“It takes time and patience and devotion to be able to connect with your horse,” Singpiel said. “If you are impatient, you can confuse the horse and the horse can get crabby.”
Singpiel is also in the Bit and Spur Club. As a member of both organizations, there is work expected of all youth who participate. In the winter, when it isn’t practical to be riding your horse every day, Singpiel is expected to meet regularly where she learns the parts of horses, the parts of a saddle and how to care for them.
“I’m a senior so I have to do more difficult things like demonstrations, learn about diseases, how to feed horses and what to feed them,” she said.
Singpiel’s horses have pasture land they can graze on, but she still needs to look after the well-being of her horse.
“There isn’t a lot to do with the horses in winter, but you have to make sure their water is unfrozen and they have enough food,” she said.
In the summer, Singpiel rides her horse to train it, attends summer riding meetings and practices the finer techniques she needs to know for the horse show. Her favorite part of the horse show is the barrel racing. The event combines a horse’s athletic ability and the rider’s horsemanship skills to safely and successfully maneuver a horse through a pattern of three barrels.
“There are three barrels in a triangular shape you have to go around,” she said. “There are timers and you try to see who is the fastest.”
One category Singpiel participates in is Western Pleasure.
“The judges look to see how pleasurable your horse is to ride,” she said. “They look to see if it’s bouncy or if you are bouncing a lot.”
Bouncing is not going to garner you a high score. Singpiel thinks she has an advantage in not bouncing too much.
“It helped when I rode bareback and I learned how to stay on a horse,” she said. “You have to make sure your heels are down and your toes are up.”
Singpiel has been competing for eight years and is a junior in high school. She plans to attend college after graduation and pursue a degree in criminal justice.