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Six youths honored for volunteer work at This Old Horse

Pictured, from left, are Rachel Carpenter, Jada Lindell, Tom Rhode, Roger McCloud (seated), Morgan Mueller, June Shuck McCloud, Nancy Turner, Fiona Schmid, Pete Swentik, Emma Burbage, and Monica Carlson.

The first annual Roger McCloud Youth Encouragement Award recognized six youth nominees for their volunteer work at Wishbone Ranch for This Old Horse on Sunday evening at the McCloud Stables in Hastings.

The award was created to honor the youth volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the cause of This Old Horse, a program that supports retired senior horses. The six nominees included Rachel Carpenter, Jada Lindell, Morgan Mueller, Fiona Schmid, Emma Burbage and Paris Whalen. One nominee was chosen as the class of 2016 representative, who received her name on a plaque in the barn at Wishbone Ranch. This year’s representative was Fiona Schmid.

Pete Swentik, program director at Wishbone Ranch for This Old Horse, said Schmid has a love for the horses and was deserving of the award for her great attitude and good heart.

“She’s a sponge, you can’t tell her enough,” he said. “She would go home and study things and come back and tell you what she learned.”

The nominees were chosen based on certain criteria. That criteria included being between 8 and 15 years old; has volunteered at This Old Horse for a minimum of one year; demonstrates compassion and respect for the horses, volunteers, staff and guests; respects and understands the stable rules; is a team player; and strives to learn and improve horse handling skills.

Swentik said the kids were recognized with the award for being stand-out kids.

“They are doing the hard work, they are getting dirty, hot, dusty, they’re working hard, they’re following the rules, they’re just good kids,” he said.

Volunteers at the ranch typically spend three hours working at a time. Monica Carlson, development director of This Old Horse, said they fill up water for the stalls, feed the horses and muck the stalls. For every 12 hours of work, the volunteers are rewarded with a riding lesson.

Carlson was the one who came up with the idea for the Roger McCloud Youth Encouragement Award. It was created as a way to honor both Nancy Turner, the owner of Wishbone Ranch, and Roger McCloud, the man who inspired Turner’s love of horses.

McCloud has been breeding and showing horses since the 1950s and he has had a presence in the competitive Quarter Horse and Paint Horse circuits. He lived next door to Turner when she was a child and he provided her access to horses. He spent time teaching her and fostering her love of horses. Now, Carlson said Turner is doing the same thing for volunteers at This Old Horse. “You are carrying on that legacy of access,” Carlson said she told Turner.

Turner said the nominees for the award all showed great work ethic and love for horses.

“It was that reliability, that leadership and compassion in horses,” Turner said of why the youths were nominated.

Roger McCloud was present at the event and This Old Horse took time at the award ceremony to celebrate his contributions. Turner said she is very appreciative of everything McCloud has done for her. She used to dream about the day she could look out her back door and see a pasture full of her own horses, and now she has that, thanks to McCloud’s inspiration.

“And being able to have This Old Horse honor (McCloud) for giving me that is almost more than my heart can hold,” Turner said.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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