Horsemanship: Windsor, Colo., senior Lind rides all the way to the top |

Horsemanship: Windsor, Colo., senior Lind rides all the way to the top

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

Aubrey Lind thought the judge at the Western 4-H Roundup Horse Judging Contest at the National Western Stock Show in January looked familiar.

When the contest was completed and Lind was named overall champion, the judge came to her with an offer that took her by surprise – a scholarship to Texas Tech University as a member of that school’s horse judging team.

“We talked at the contest when we were in Oklahoma City, where he was also a judge,” Aubrey said. But when she was named overall champion in Denver, Colo., the talk, obviously, got a lot more serious.

“4-H is so worth it,” Dave Lind said. His wife, Tammie, nodded her head in agreement.

The scholarship offered to their daughter gives her in-state tuition, Dave said, and, combined with other scholarships she’s accumulated as a member of Weld’s record-setting 4-H horse judging and hippology teams, pretty well assures her of a college degree.

But the result of that is a lot of hard work over a period of almost 10 years, work that last year elevated the 17-year-old senior at Windsor High School to Level IV of the Colorado 4-H horse advancement program. The program is designed to be a logical, step-by-step guide to teach youngsters horsemanship and horse care, according to 4-H.

Aubrey and her judging teammate and Windsor classmate Marissa Bartmann – who also reached Level IV last year – were the first Weld 4-H members to accomplish the feat since Stuart Gebauer in 1994. He’s now president of the Weld County Fair Board and works for Agland Inc.

A member of the Horse Whisperers 4-H Club, Aubrey said she’s been riding horses since she was about 6, about the same time her older sister, Brigid, got involved with horses. Brigid is now a nursing assistant in Denver, Colo.

She said she reached Level II of the program in 2002, then, when she decided to start participating in the horse show at the Colorado State Fair, she obtained Level III. Each level requires taking written tests and performing required horsemanship abilities before a judge.

She reached the first three levels on a paint mare she called Lacey. But, during a simple workout, the horse injured a leg.

“The veterinarian compared it to a football player running along the sideline and blowing out a knee,” Dave said.

The mare had to have surgery and continues to rehab.

So in order to reach Level IV, Aubrey had to break in a new horse, which turned out to be a quarterhorse mare they were able to get in a trade. But it took Aubrey and the mare, Lily, a year and a half of retraining and getting to know one another before the two could even think about taking the Level IV test. That test took about three hours before a judge in Wellington, Colo. She took the level test in Western riding and ranch horse at the same time.

“She was a burned-out reiner,” Dave said of the 10-year-old horse they got in 2009.

Each level of the program gets tougher, and Dave said Aubrey’s involvement in hippology, which deals with the anatomy of a horse, helped a great deal. He exhibited horses and cattle as a 4-H member, which may explain Aubrey’s interest.

Aubrey said she plans to get a degree in agriculture business with a goal of having her own horse-training business in the future. She got a taste of what that might entail when she got Taffy, a young mare she had to saddle break.

“She tried to kill me at first,” Aubrey said with a laugh, adding it took from January to May of last year to get the 2-year-old saddle broke. But that work was good enough to take the horse to the Weld County Fair, where the two competed in the green horse division of the fair horse show.

Aubrey and Marissa were also members of the Windsor FFA Horse Judging Team that was eighth overall at the National FFA contest last year. Aubrey was fifth overall at that contest, winning another $1,000 scholarship. Marissa has been recruited to be a member of the Women’s Equine Team at New Mexico State University next year and also won her share of scholarships.

“I don’t know if she’s going to be on the horse judging team, so we might not cross paths. But we’ve been friends since the first grade and it will stay that way,” she said.

Dave and Tammie are proud of their daughter’s accomplishments in the 4-H horse performance program.

“I just hope it inspires some other people to do it,” Dave said.

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