Apples ‘n Bits 4-H Horse & Service Club

Jean Marie Vogler loves children, horses and her community in Winchester, Virginia.  She has successfully corralled all three under her Apples ‘n Bits 4-H Horse & Service Club.  Started in 2001 with eight members, the club now has membership of eighteen.  The club was designed for members that loves horses but do not own any.


Club time is devoted to community service projects, public speaking events, performance at talent shows, general interest activities, and learning about horses.  They put on talent shows at local nursing homes where the members dance, sing, or play instruments to the joy of the residents.

The club members and mini's bring much joy to veteran's hospitals and nursing homes.

The club members and mini’s bring much joy to veteran’s hospitals and nursing homes.

  General interest activities are chosen by the members.  They enjoy hula-hooping, cider pressing, fund raising for their club, potluck dinners and scavenger hunts.  Guest speakers teach on a variety of topics, such as, trees, and history of the guitar. Blue Rock Horses has been a guest speaker as well on History and Appreciation of the Horse.

Jean  Marie has four miniature Shetland ponies and three full-size Quarter horses on her farm in Winchester, Virginia.  She believes the mini’s are “a nice size to introduce the kids to big horses.”  She and her club visit nursing homes and veteran’s hospitals with the mini’s.  They are warmly welcomed and are the most cordial of guests.  She begins with her “little teachers” and as her kids grow in knowledge and comfort, she moves on to her “big teachers”—the Quarter horses.

Educational exhibits at Frederick and Clarke County Fairs

Educational exhibits at Frederick and Clarke County Fairs

A very unique part of her club is the twelve week summer horse camp offered to club members.  This summer, 2013, marked the second year of her successful camp.  The camp meets once a week for 2-1/2 hours.  Each year has a central theme to teach and grow her horse enthusiasts.  The first year theme was “Observing your horse” where members learned much about horse health and horse language.  This year’s camp theme was “Groundwork First.”     Jean Marie knows well  “a good relationship with any horse begins on the ground.”  Blue Rock Horses were honored to be guest speakers one morning there with our horses.  Infused in every activity of this club is lots of fun, laughter, and fresh air.

Summer horse camps are a unique part of the Apples 'n Bits club.

Summer horse camps are a unique part of the Apples ‘n Bits club.

Infused in every activity is lots of fun, laughter, and fresh air.

Infused in every activity is lots of fun, laughter, and fresh air.



The 4-H motto is “Make the Best Better.”  One cannot spend time with Jean Marie and her club without noticing the many, many awards they have won.  Here are but a few:

4-H Club of the Year

4-H Outstanding  Jr., Sr., and First Year Awards

4-H Family of the Year Award

All-Stars—the top State Award given at Virginia Tech

Blue ribbons won at Educational Exhibits at Frederick and Clarke County fairs


Apples ‘n Bits 4-H Horse & Service Club is an exceptional 4-H club in Winchester, Virginia.  Their many awards are proof of their devotion and hard work to their club and of the excellent leadership of Jean Marie Vogler.  Next time they are fundraising at Tractor Supply in Winchester this author sure hopes you will stop by and support this fine group of young people who represent the hope of the future for us all.

Apple 'n Bits 4-H Horse & Service Club is an exceptional club.

Apple ‘n Bits 4-H Horse & Service Club is an exceptional club.


For more information call:

Jean Marie Vogler 540-662-8302 or

for all 4-H Club programs call Frederick County Extension Office 540-665-5699




Riding at Blue Rock Horses

Written by Olivia Cox

Olivia and High Hope working around a flower pot

We ride and work all around the farm, not just the round pen. Olivia is working around a flower pot!

I’ve been attending riding lessons at Blue Rock Horses for about two years. It’s been really fun and I’ve grown to love horses.

But why bother with horses anyway? What’s so good about horses? First of all, horses are beautiful, fast, strong, intelligent, and friendly. Horses can teach you many things, such as responsibility, self-control, patience, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, strength, diligence, and probably a whole lot more. Horseback riding is good exercise, and working with horses makes you strong, confident, and gives you a lifelong friend.

Strengthening exercises

This exercise Olivia is doing looks easy, but it is hard work to sit still, lean forward and keep your balance. She did touch High Hope's nose, good going, Olivia!

Mrs. Bricker and her siblings trade off duties visiting her mother, and my sister and I take turns taking lessons, so my lessons are usually not very consistent. But I still benefit from them. Can you benefit from part-time lessons? Yes, you can, but expect it to take a little longer. Fewer lessons also give you some time to look in to other things (horses are wonderful, but there is also room in our lives for other interests).

What I am currently learning is how to post, to the trot. The trot is very bumpy, and it can be uncomfortable to ride a trotting horse. If you rise slightly out of the saddle at every beat of the trot, it can be more comfortable. That is called posting. Although it seems easy, it’s harder than it sounds. While learning to post, I have to make sure I am posting to the rhythm of the trot, and also make sure High Hope will keep trotting. I also have to keep my heels down, my knees in, my back straight, my chin up, and my hands above High Hope’s withers. It is hard work, but Mrs. Bricker tells me that it will all become automatic. I think the sitting trot (a gentle trot that does not require posting) is easier. Next, I think I want to learn the lope, or canter, which is faster, smoother, and probably a lot more fun.

I usually practice posting in a round arena, so High Hope can trot in a circle. I will usually start out walking, then ask High Hope to trot when I’m ready. She might stop, stumble, ro shy, or even refuse to trto, so I have to work to make her trot all the way around the ring. Rising out of the saddle is not hard, just doing it at the right moment. I’ve found that it is a little easier to post when High Hope trots quickly, because the movement kind of throws me out of the saddle. I will often change directions, and take High Hope around the circle clockwise or counterclockwise. High Hope likes to trot, and is pretty agreeable during these lessons.

When it is over, we will take High Hope to the trailer, take off her saddle and bridle, put on her halter, brush her, put on her fly mask (if it’s buggy), and put her back in the pen. Of course, we never forget to pet her and tell her that she’s a good girl. Everyone deserves praise every now and then.

Riding bareback together, Olivia & Anna Kate

Our students always do some bareback riding as well. It is a great way to feel the movements of the horse. Here they are riding double. Look carefully at Anna Kate. See her big smile? It is more comfortable in the back. If it is any help, Olivia, when I was your age I had to ALWAYS ride in the front too!

The Benefits of Riding Lessons

by Anna Kate Cox

I have been taking riding lessons at Blue Rock Horses for about two years, and it has been incredibly fun learning to ride, as well as care for, the beautiful, four-legged creature called a “horse.”

Mrs. Bricker, my riding instructor, has been an excellent teacher. Not only does she teach us riding, she also teaches all aspects of horsemanship.

Caring for the horse--Anna Kate & HH

It is not the most glamorious part of riding horses, but Anna Kate does a fine job of caring for High Hope, and it shows!

The horses, High Hope and Webster, have been kind and patient with me while I learn about them, to ride them, and to care for them.
Anna Kate bareback & hugging HH

One of my favorite pictures of Anna Kate on High Hope. She looks comfortable, happy and enjoying time with her horse, High Hope.

I have learned many great things that I didn’t know how to do before. I’ve learned to lead, groom, tack (put on bridle, saddle, etc.), and ride a horse. Before I started riding lessons, I had only petted horses, and didn’t have a clue how you’d do any of that.

It has been such a wonderful experience getting to know this amazing animal. I’ve learned the differences between trotting, cantering and galloping. I’ve learned how to clean a horse’s hoof by “picking” it, and to examine my horse for any potential health problems. I’ve learned to post, which is rising slightly out of the saddle to make trotting more comfortable for you . I’ve learned the proper posture you should have when you are riding a horse (back strait, knees in, heels down). Mrs. Bricker teaches us to pay attention to the horse’s body language and to anticipate what the horse might do.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about taking riding lessons is learning to do something that I hadn’t done before. It builds your confidence, character and maturity to learn how to handle such a large, strong, quick animal. Another thing I have enjoyed while learning about horses is riding fast. It feels good to go so quickly on such a pretty creature. I’ve also had fun meeting the Bricker family and their two great horses. High hope and Webster have both been mischievous sometimes, but like I said before, they have been amazingly patient and kind with beginners like me.

This wonderful experience has taught me that good horsemanship is certainly worth your time to learn. It makes you braver, more self-confident, more patient, and it’s also lots of fun. I have definitely enjoyed and benefited from learning horsemanship, and getting to know these amazing, intelligent creatures better at Blue Rock Horses.

Anna Kate lesson with High Hope

Anna Kate works hard at sitting tall and pretty. She's doing a great job!

Bridles, Belts and Bracelets

This is the first of monthly blogs written by Blue Rock Horses riding students. This month’s feature article is written by Miss Anna Kate Cox.

Blue Rock Horses students enjoyed crafting leather last Saturday. It was a very windy day, and when we arrived we were glad to get inside the small leather shop. We were greeted by the owner of the shop, Wayne Groves, who introduced himself, the shop, called Tricks of the Trade, and his wife, Barbara. Tricks of the Trade, like any leather shop, smelled like leather, which is a wonderful aroma.

Peter at leather shop

Peter working on a shepherd's purse

The shop was also very neat and organized. He showed us the tools that he uses to make leather things. There were several hammers, including a maul, a cobles hammer, and a mallet. There was a huge machine called a stitcher, which sewed leather together. Lasts are used to help make shoes. Learning about leather tools was very enjoyable.

Next, he took us upstairs to show us all of the different animal skins. We passed them around and all tried to guess which animal the skin came from. Mr. Groves told us several very interesting facts. He told us that if you get leather wet, you can stretch it out into different shapes, he also told us how you keep leather healthy and nice-looking. You need to use soap & water to keep it clean, let it dry thoroughly, and oil it regularly. Most interestingly, he told us that small skins are called pelts, the medium-sized ones are just called skins, and large animal skins are always called hides. Also Leather can come from cows, sheep, snakes, alligators, sharks, lizards, foxes, bears, pigs, minks, reindeer, and many other kinds of animal skins.

The next thing we did was make a shepherd’s pouch. We sewed two pieces of leather together, and when we were done sewing, we had the strap attached, the buttons put on, and the pouch fixed up.

Abigail with purse

We had the strap attatched, the buttons put on, and the purse fixed up.

Then, Mr. Groves showed us how to make a bracelet out of a leather mystery braid (it’s hard for me to explain how it’s done).

Anna Kate with Wayne

It’s hard for me to explain how it’s done

We stayed for a while to chat and have fun, and suddenly it was time to leave. Mr. Groves gave us some leather key chains, and then we said goodbye and left for home. We had such a great time making shepherd’s pouches and mystery braided bracelets at Tricks of the Trade.