Sep 23, 2019

Animals, Agriculture, and Olive Scaff

By Lori Draz and Olive Scaff

Olive Scaff horse 4h monmouth county nj

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry. Let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is 15-year-old Olive Scaff, a rising sophomore, passionate pet parent and proud member of the 4-H of Monmouth County. 4-H is not just animals and agriculture. Their rich programs offer students experiences in everything from rocketry, culinary, performing arts and so much more. Olive is the Monmouth County Fair Ambassador, eager to share her animals and more importantly the great friendships and opportunities that 4-H can afford any Monmouth County student. You won’t believe all that’s available. Here is Olive’s story:

“A pet store!” I was driving home from a visit to our favorite Bermuda beach where we swim with sea turtles, and I saw a pet store. I always notice them because I’m obsessed with animals. I go to Bermuda every summer to visit my 90-year-old Bermudian grandparents and everything in my life, even those trips, revolves around animals. On one visit, I brought home a horse. Can you imagine? Some of my dad’s friends asked, “Would you take a horse back to New Jersey?” Of course, we agreed. Soon, Atlantic Dancer was flying across the ocean in an airplane. She was a wonderful horse and partner.

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Horses are my main love. I have a thoroughbred named Ace, a pony named Cover Girl and a miniature horse named Chocolate Kiss. Each one is amazing. Chocolate Kiss visits nursing homes, and the people just love her. She marches right up to the people’s beds for a pat on the head. This little horse may not seem like much, but she brings so much joy to the elderly and has taught me a lot about compassion. Cover Girl is a really good jumper, and I have a lot of fun with her, competing in all of the 4-H horse shows.

My newest horse, Ace, is an off-the-track thoroughbred. I always wanted a gray thoroughbred, and I found him on a thoroughbred rescue website called “Turning for Home.” He was free to a good home. He has a knee injury and a deformed foot, but he’s still perfect. I’m retraining him after his racing career. In October, we’re going to Kentucky to compete in the thoroughbred makeover retired racehorse project. We’re going to ride in the field hunter division, and then we’re going to perform a freestyle doing mounted archery. Getting Ace ready for the competition has been a real challenge. He’s a former racer, so I have to teach him to walk, trot, canter and jump. He is also accident- and injury-prone. He’s learning a lot, but I have to ride him almost every day. I made a commitment to enter the competition, and now I have to follow through and make sure my Ace is ready. Ace may challenge me, but you know what? Because of these little difficulties, Ace and I spend a lot of time together. We share quiet moments when I brush him and care for his little wounds and his feet, and I feel a deep sense of love and companionship. It is spiritual.  My horses are a big responsibility, but it has taught me a lot. Each of my horses trust I will keep them safe and provide all that they need, and I trust that Ace and Cover Girl will keep me safe while I ride them. I truly love them with all my heart, and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything.

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4-H has impacted my life in a positive way. I take my animals to a lot of 4-H activities. And even though horses are my main passion, I absolutely love other animals too. I’m the Livestock Ambassador. I am lucky enough to live on our 6-acre family farm that is also home to Nigerian dwarf goat mothers, each with a new baby; all four are a big part of my livestock project. Our 4-H friend helped us so much when we were breeding our goats for the first time. She acted as our goat friend/mom. Just one example of her kindness and dedication happened when we called to say, “Our goat is in labor!” She was in the grocery store, and she left all her groceries behind and raced right over to deliver our baby boy goat. That’s what the 4-H family is like – there when needed. I also enjoy showing a 4-H friend’s sheep. I’m still learning how to show livestock, but I enjoy it.

I’m the Monmouth County Fair Ambassador, so every year, I bring my horses and goats to the fair to show them off and to promote 4-H. When the fair’s livestock show came up, I needed lots of help. I wanted to show my mother goats, but they would not leave their babies. I didn’t want to upset my goats, and I didn’t know what to do. Ultimately, a friend each held a baby goat at the show to keep the mom goats calm. What a big help! My animals and 4-H have brought me best friends and lifelong friendships.

My animals have taught me so much. I have learned to communicate with people as well as animals and how to be a team player. The hours spent at the barn, caring for

Ace, Cover Girl and Chocolate Kiss, as well as the goats and their babies, have been hours filled with animal and human contact. Animals speak their own language. Horses move and react as if you are dancing with them. You better learn the steps or you might get stepped on or knocked over. The goat mothers and babies talk to each other with bleats and cries. The babies need their moms just like all of the animals in my care need me. It’s a mutual relationship, and the love and care I give them comes back to me in spades!