Second grader promotes epilepsy awareness
When in the arena, Winter Palmateer shines with her horsemanship.
However, what few see is the behind-the-scenes hard work of Palmateer, who helps take care of her family’s 14 horses on their 5-acre property, participates in horse groups like 4-H, Teens and Oregon Mustangs, and Oregon high school equestrian teams, all while attending to high school.
Though only 17 years old, Palmateer has developed her confidence and independence in 4-H for nine years. She is in both the Wild-At-Heart-Riders 4-H Club and the Blueberry Sunrise 4-H Club with her goats. Palmateer has competed in show jumping, dressage, mounted gaming events, and even pony driving with her mini horse Rodney.
“Winter’s ‘amazingness’ is how she has used her love for animals to develop empathy and emotional intelligence skills, which she applies to being a leader in her community,” County Liaison/Manager at Oregon State Extension Service Leah Sundquist M.Ed. said. “For example, as a kid, she loved horses and started out in 4-H like many others, learning to ride and enjoying spending time with other youth who loved horses.
After a few years, she started looking for something more out of her horse project. She got a new horse that was more of a challenge, then she got a pony and learned to drive. Training horses is hard – you must be conscious of the horse’s behavior and your own, plus be in control of your emotions and open to trying new methods.”
Palmateer, who was flattered to be named one of Pamplin’s Amazing Kids, was introduced to horses from a young age and admitted she could have played sports but is glad she stayed with horses because they have taught her about life.
“Horses have taught me about who I am and about compassion,” she said. “I’ve trained three mustangs aside from my own horses. I signed up to receive a wild mustang, train it for 100 days then compete with it. I take a wild horse and gentle it down to be able to ride anywhere, like on a trail or the beach, and work showmanship with it. I like to be able to create a bond between the horse and myself with a mutual understanding between us, so we are of one mind. The amount of trust that comes with it is more than just ‘breaking’ horse to ride.”
Currently, Palmateer is a senior at Summit Learning Charter School and has no set plans after graduation, only that she will continue to work with horses. For now, she is busy with 4-H and continuing to impress her instructors.
“One of the things you learn as an animal trainer is how easy it is to mess up. Do you know what happens to horses, and other animals, whose people have messed up? Those poorly trained animals are hard to find homes for. That’s what’s special about her next training challenge – the yearling mustang.
She started with a wild horse. She had to tame it as well as train it. And she did it because she knew there was no other way for that horse to find a home. Because of the time she invested, hundreds of hours, that horse is now leading a good life and is a willing partner for its owner,” Sundquist said.
“Now, Winter is channeling the compassion, intuition, and responsibility she has gained into helping others in her community. She mentors other youth in 4-H club that are learning new skills or training their animals. She is a peer leader at her school and among her friends.”