WAVERLY – Everything Equine 4-H club leader Chelsea Thompson describes horse girls as stubborn.
Raymond native Kali Maytum and the rest of the club proved their trainer right in the fashion that makes sense for horse girls – through hard work.
When school was shut down in mid-March due to COVID-19, the parents of the girls were at a sudden loss for what to do with their children. Thompson had a different idea.
Thompson began training all day at the Beach Boarding Barn west of Lincoln. Totally self-motivated, the girls would get dropped off by their parents around 8 a.m. and according to Maytum would be there well into the afternoon training, doing chores and anything that involved horseback riding.
Maytum, who is a junior at Malcolm High School this year, has been riding horses her whole life and spent most of the shutdown training with Thompson. Thompson said that since there were kids from four years up to 17 years old all working together, the older girls really became role models to the younger kids, including Thompson’s 4-year-old daughter Brystal and 6-year-old daughter Braylee.
“They’ve made connections and they’ve made friends and they’ve seen that if you put some work in, you get an excellent reward,” Thompson said about her daughters. “That’s something as a parent that I can’t teach.”
For Maytum, being around the younger kids motivated her and her team to work harder.
“With the little ones around, we made ourselves better for them to give them a good example and to have them look up to us,” Maytum said.
After winning a state trophy at the Nebraska State 4-H Horse Show last year, it was hard for Maytum to not bring home a trophy this year, despite the effort she put in practicing. Maytum said it was a tough competition because competitors not only were able to practice every day like her and her teammates, but also that each competitor could redo their videos as many times as they wanted to submit for the virtual competition.
“It basically came down to which person did it completely perfect,” Maytum said.
Thompson said that despite not winning, the skills they learned during the shutdown showed during state competition.
“They all didn’t complain,” Thompson said. “They kept smiles on their faces, set fantastic examples for the younger kids and they all went out there and tried their best for the next ride, no matter the results.”
Maytum’s most important takeaway from her work during the shutdown and state horse show was that everything doesn’t always go your way.
“You can’t wake up one morning and be perfect,” Maytum said. “You have to work for it.”
Thompson found that the dynamic they developed since last spring has been something that has improved the club’s skills all around.
“In this day and age, (riding horses is) the greatest thing you could do,” Thompson said. “They’ve got to communicate with these 1,200 pound animals, 8-year-old girls and 17-year-old girls...it seems like every kid this summer just expanded their skills exponentially.”
For Maytum, being a stubborn horse girl isn’t a bad thing, but something that will also benefit her in the future.
“If we have our mind set to something there’s nothing stopping us,” Maytum said. “We’re going to make it happen, we have a goal, and we are going to get there no matter where we’re going to go. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but then the next year, we’re going to work harder and we’re going to hopefully get there.”
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