ST. ANSGAR — At State Line Farm, located on State Line Street in Mitchell County, Monica Anderson helps give young people the confidence to work with horses, while fostering their love of the animals.
Anderson starts her beginners with Horse Handling 1, where they start from the ground up, learning about safety and how to groom and pick out the feet of the horses, in addition, how to lead them and how to be safe around the large animals. All of this is done before they learn how to saddle the horses or even begin to ride.
“It’s four weeks, four sessions,” Anderson said. “We start real basic, with grooming and handling them in the arena. We teach the students about standing on the correct side of the horse, leading while walking and trotting, as well as what a safety knot is and what the animals eat.”
For 7-year-old Ashton McAlister, the time spent taking lessons has served to enhance his budding abilities.
“Ashton had ridden on and off since he was little,” said his mother, Heather Henamon. “He has horses at home, but we wanted to take classes to help him get better at handling them and to give him more experience.
“It’s easier when someone else is teaching your child, and Monica knows more about the showing bit, where we do more trail riding at home.”
Ashton has already used one of the horses, from State Line Farms, to enter in the open class horse show at the Mower County Fair, held in Austin, Minn. He placed first in his class.
“I like my lessons,” said 12-year-old Abby Christopherson. “I plan to show one day. My favorite thing that I’ve learned so far is how to trot.”
With many of Anderson’s students going on to take part in open class events as well as 4-H horse shows, she focuses on aspects of showmanship, including how to set up the horses in a judging situation and what to do when the judge is moving around the horse.
“We also go over how to pivot and how to go over poles, as well as the kinds of things they would have to do out on the trails,” Anderson said. “We set up obstacles, and in the third session, we work on saddling and how to put a bridle on. Tonight, they will have to show me how to put a saddle on.
“I encourage parents to come too, they need to know what’s going on, as well as how much goes into feeding the horses and what they eat.”
Anderson’s students learn how to get the horses, bringing them into the arena, from their stalls or from the outside corrals, where some of them are kept. They learn the importance of staying calm and alert, when working with the horses. They also learn the importance of paying attention to their surroundings and where they are in relation to the animal with which they are working. In addition, Anderson trains horses as part of her business.
“I enjoy trying to find each candidate their next mount,” Anderson said. “You just know when the person meets the horse that it’s the right match.”
During the summer, Anderson does a horse camp, with horse-related activities for the kids. People can find her classes and other activities listed on her Facebook page. In addition, she said there were always opportunities for young people to come out and learn about horses and help with chores.
“They just have to be willing to get their hands dirty,” Anderson said.