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Horse lovers gather for workshop

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 10:52 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Sonya Dillon of Fort Gay, W.Va., always wanted a horse when she was growing up.

"I wanted one so bad," she said Saturday at the 4th annual Wayne County Hippology Clinic at Spring Valley High School. Hippology is the study of horses. "I didn't get a horse until I was married."

She wanted her daughter, Lillian, 12, to have opportunities she didn't have, and now they have three horses on their Wayne County farm.

"We've been active with Wayne County 4-H," she said.

"We don't do much with the horses in the winter," Lillian Dillon said. "We still have to take care of them. We slack off in the winter, but by the time spring comes we're ready to go again. I started riding when I was two. I ride with my mom and my uncle."

"We try to teach them more about horses and safety for horse and rider," said Gary Napier, a volunteer with Wayne County 4-H. "We hold the clinic in the winter since in the summer they're out showing and riding."

About 30 young enthusiasts between the ages of nine and 18 attended the clinic at Spring Valley. The number was down a little from last year, he said. "The clinic is open to the public," Napier said. "We have more than just Wayne County residents. We have people from Ohio and Kentucky here, too."

The Wayne County 4-H horse program has about a dozen participants while there are 1,700 involved in Wayne County 4-H, said Julie Tritz, 4-H extension agent.

"We focus on safety," she said. "We tell them to always wear their helmets when they're riding. We talk about the proper handling of horses."

Erin Ferry, 14, a Vinson Middle School student, is attending the clinic for the third time. "I don't have a horse, but I want to learn more about horses and how to take care of them," she said. "My aunt has horses. This is something that interests me. I've learned a lot n the clinics, and I've had a lot of fun."

Brandi Caldwell, a high school junior from Wayne, W.Va., has attended all four clinics. "I've been riding for as long as I can remember," she said. "I've been taking riding lessons for the past five years. I've learned more about how to take care of horses and about illness and what to look for."

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