WHEATLAND – A Platte County 4-H group spent last Saturday morning at the Doug Kafka ranch in Wheatland as part of their education to learn about identifying tack. They also enjoyed a hayride on one of Kafka’s western wagons.
Kafka and Dawn Copas not only identified the tack that they were using to harness their draft horses, Betty and Beauty who are half-sisters, but they also taught the kids about wagons and identifying the different wagon parts.
The kids were being educated for a competition that is upcoming.
“There are three knowledge contests,” said Samantha Hammond, Platte County 4-H youth leader. “Anything you want to learn about a horse, hopefully these kids will learn it. That’s everything from evolution to parasites, internal and external, and we teach about riding, but you don’t have to have a horse to come join us. Mostly it’s just book learning is what we’re doing.”
Hammond said that any activity involving a horse is what 4-H is trying to teach the kids. The group who meets in the Wheatland library once a week enjoyed the extra field trip from their usual classroom teaching.
In addition to learning about tack and wagon parts, the students were also shown a hand-made horse arena that Kafka built, an 1800s chuck wagon, a doctor’s carriage, an ice-delivery wagon and even a horse-drawn hearse that was built in 1772 and was used in the movie “The Sons of Katie Elder” starring John Wayne.
“We showed them several pictures of the Texas wagon train in1986,” said Kafka. “We explained how Bruegman rodeos used to plow 160 acres of corn with 6 horses on two bottom gang plows. We had pictures of the chuck wagon races they used to have at Cheyenne frontier days and I pointed out our overshot stacker used for putting up hay with horses. Dawn and I showed them the parts of the work horse harness and then dawn helped me harness and hook up the team.”
Each 4-H student was allowed to sit up front and observed as Kafka drove the team.
“I am sure Dawn and I enjoyed it as much as the 4-H girls,” Kafka said. “It was an enjoyable day and I couldn’t have done it without Dawn’s help.”