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Friday, May 6, 2016

Cavaliers celebrate their 50th year

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This year, the Cherokee County 4-H Cavaliers are celebrating 50 years as a club.

Over those 50 years, Cavaliers has been responsible for lots of learning about life, people, and horses, plus the development of many long lasting friendships, and more fond memories than anyone can know.

Jan Witcombe of Cherokee was a founding member of the Cavaliers and she reflects on some of her fond memories.

The Cherokee County 4-H Cavaliers are currently celebrating 50 years. Pictured are the Cavaliers riding in a parade through downtown Cherokee sometime during the 1960s. Photo contributed
"Having been a leaders' kid, there was no slacking off or horsing around as we were expected to set an example and help others, and we still had fun," said Witcombe.

After the Horse and Pony Project was approved by the Extension Service, the new club was quickly formed and organized. Witcombe states, "The name 'Cavaliers' was selected for our name from the meaning of a person (usually a gentleman) trained in arms and horsemanship, or a mounted soldier."

"Long-sleeved blue shirts with black lettering and black ties were selected to complete our attire of dark denim jeans, dark Western boots, and black felt Western hats," she continued.

"The goals of our club included learning proper care for our horses, proper equipment, learning to properly saddle and bridle our horses, learning to be good/better riders, learn more about horses, in general, and enjoy doing all of this," said Witcombe.

"With 50 plus kids attending that first organization meeting, we had several levels of riding accomplishment. Members were divided into groups according to those levels, the leaders divided up so that all those levels were covered, and we all went to work from there. Each of those groups had an important part in the County Fair," she added.

Bareback mule riding This is picture of Duane Heschke and Eugene Ebert riding a mule, during a bareback tandem class at the Cherokee Fair Grounds in 1973 -- one of many fond memories during the Cherokee County 4-H Cavaliers Club's 50 year history. Photo contributed
"I especially remember my mother taking the group of the youngest members - even some kids who were too young for 4-H but came along with the rest of his or her family - way off from the rest of the members and starting from square one. If the kids were afraid, they learned not to be afraid by getting to know their horse or pony, the horse or pony got used to the kids, the kids learned what to do and how to do it, and by Fair time, those young riders had a drill of their own that was done equally as well as the more skilled riders, just at a slower pace.

They were all so proud and the rest of the Cavalier members were just as proud of them," commented Witcombe.

"Many hours of practice and hard work by leaders, members, and parents paid off in many ways but being asked to perform on the Grand Concourse at the Iowa State Fair was at the top of our list," she continued.

Witcombe reflected, "Many things have changed over the past 50 years, one of the biggest being horse transportation. Fifty years ago, my family had a big old, snub-nosed straight truck to haul our horses, as well as some of the neighbors' horses. Others had stock racks in pickups, pickups pulling two-horse or four-horse trailers, and cars pulling two-horse trailers."

"As another 50-year Cavalier member mentioned, a car pulling a two-horse Linville Trailer was right up town!

"Another big change is the quality of the horses the members are riding and their riding equipment. Current members are very lucky to be riding really nice horses with some pretty fancy gear which makes one of the original goals of Cavaliers even more important - proper care of the horse and equipment, which includes a good horse feeding program as well as cleaning and polishing equipment (including boots)," she said.

"Member numbers have fluctuated over the years from a high of nearly 100. I'm sure the hard work and lots of time spent by the leaders, members, and parents continues but I hope the 'having fun while learning' also continues. All those experiences and memories can never be taken away, they are forever," added Witcombe.

She also adds, "I'd like to remind current members, as we were reminded 50 years ago, to strive to live the 4-H Pledge, the 4-H Motto -- 'to make the best better,' and to practice the 4-H Slogan -- 'to win without bragging - to lose without squealing.'"

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