Wranglers Club 4-H’er cherishes relationships builtJuly 13, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Horse riding is in his blood.
The craft was passed down to Mitchell Kaiser from his father and grandfather, and after a decade, the young man’s time in the Dubois County 4-H program is coming to an end.
But that doesn’t mean he’s hanging up his saddle and stirrups — or that he’ll forget the close relationships he’s built in the last 10 years.
Kaiser first hopped on one of the animals by himself when he was around 5 years old. A recent Jasper High School graduate, the 18-year-old boy is a longtime member of the Wranglers 4-H Club. He reflected on his time in the organization in a Friday interview, speaking of how it both connected him to his community and provided a sense of exhilaration.
What sticks out to him the most when he thinks back on the time he’s grown through 4-H?
“Just all the new friends I’ve made and everything,” said Kaiser, who lives in Jasper, later reflecting on “how everyone’s so helpful with each other. Just like it’s a big community that you join into. And they accept everybody.”
In the 4-H program, Kaiser participated mostly in timed racing events, like pole-bending and barrel racing. A family friend introduced him to those high-speed games and got him hooked.
“Just the adrenaline rush,” Kaiser said when asked why that style of riding appealed to him. “You only go fast. And you and the horse are two in one. You’re together on it; it’s like two minds thinking as one.”
He estimated he participated in about eight events a year through 4-H. Some of his biggest accomplishments include being named the grand champion at High Point Games three times and notching the runner-up designation at the contest twice.
He was disappointed when he heard the Dubois County 4-H Fair would be held in a virtual format this year — the virtual fair runs today through Friday — but he understands that decision was outside of his control.
“I was really bummed out,” he said. “Especially because it’s my last year. I was really looking forward to it. But, I guess you [can’t] do too much about that.”
Though his racing career is finished, horses will always be part of Kaiser’s life. He has five horses at his Jasper home — including Tennessee walkers, quarter horses and a standard bread that is used to pull a carriage.
Kaiser, his parents and his siblings enjoy trail riding — they’ve all ridden horses for years — and spending time in the woods together with the animals is a bonding experience.
The young man also spoke positively of the local horse riding community. Comprised of little kids to riders in their 80s, the group is welcoming, he said.
“We’re all one big family, I feel like,” he said. “Help each other out.”
He encouraged other youth to get involved in the 4-H Wranglers Club because it gets participants out of the house and into a tight-knit environment.
“And you get to do something that most people have never done before,” he said. “And I think it’s a really good trade to have, to be with an animal like that and to build a connection with a horse, too. Just get out there and do something, being active.”
Kaiser plans to study finance at the University of Alabama. A former member of the JHS track and field, football and wrestling teams, Mitchell is the son of Bill and Allison Kaiser of Jasper.
This story is the first in a series on 10-year 4-H members.
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