Every year AHYA hosts a National judging contest at US Nationals in Tulsa. During the contest Junior AHA, 4H/FFA, and Collegiate teams judge ten different classes and give four sets of oral reasons on the final Friday of US Nationals. This contest has many awards and gives out a lot of money each year in scholarships.
This year is my fifth year on a judging team. I started judging five years ago I knew nothing about judging or oral reasons and I filled in on a team one month before the contest. I was overwhelmed finding out that I wouldn't be able to talk for the entire day and I had to sit there and judge horses in the cold arena. At the end of the contest it wasn't as bad as I thought and I had a lot of fun. Watching older team members place individually at nationals made me realize that I could do that well one day. The next year I got my first top ten individual in judging and now I have twenty top tens from nationals.
Why should someone join a judging team? Not just for the prizes but for understanding how horses function. Judging gave me the understanding of what judges look for in horses which helped me in the show ring. It also gave me the understanding of how horses conformation helps them function. After learning form to function I can easily tell if a horse is going to be a good performance horse just by looking at it without a saddle on. I think every youth should know the form to function on a horse so they are aware of how horses are built and so they can identify traits of horses that are undesirable. Other than knowing how horses function, judging helps with communication. Oral reasons are a very important thing in a judging contest. Everyone seems to fear giving a set of reasons. Reasons have helped me so much in communicating with other. When you are giving a set of oral reasons you have to defend the way you judged a class to people you has never met before, which can be very scary. Oral reasons give people the confidence to talk in front of people that they don't know and help them get over the fear of public speaking.
If you ever have a chance to join a youth judging team do it! Even if you have no idea what you are doing you should try it, you can learn so much in just one year of judging. It builds better horsemen and women. Youth Judging has opened so many doors for me so go out and see what kind of doors it will open for you!
About the Author Molly Schwister is the current AHYA Secretary & Region 10 Director
"It's just counting strides, finding your distance, swapping leads, and looking good doing it. Relax, what could be easier?" -Anonymous
So many times, equestrians around the world, in every industry are told this one thing: "Riding horses is not a sport because all you do is sit there and the horse does all the work." We all know that this is not true. Riding and showing horses is not only a sport that works towards finesse, but an art.
Do you get tired of people telling you that the horse does all the work, or that you just sit there? Trust me, I know the feeling of being told that and it does not feel that great. Every time that happens I want to throw them onto a horse and see what they can do with a pattern or see how they can do under pressure in the show ring!
Most of the time, the people telling you these things do not understand what goes on behind the scenes. If they watch professionals, they only see someone "sitting there" with the horse doing all of the amazing things they were trained to do or went on a trail ride on horses that are trained to be slow and steady so that their cargo does not lose their balance and fall off. To many, that is what riding is, but it is a false example of what equestrians really do. They do not understand how much passion, hard work, and long hours we put in to our horses and skills.
Equestrians at the Olympics may look like they just sit there, but a true horseman must look like they are not doing anything to be amazing at that level. The judges must not see the secret cues that are making the horse switch leads every stride or jog in place. All of these horses are trained to a level that all of us can only dream of getting our horses to.
Showing Arabians is what most of us love to do. Whether you are just reading this as a person who loves Arabians but does not own one, or you do own and show Arabians, we all have something in common: passion. All of us who show are blessed to be able to do what we do, no matter what level we are at! As I show at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, I always go around with my purebred and allow the spectators to truly experience the Arabian horse up close and personal. I let them know how much work it takes to get to that level and how much it means that they take the time to come out and watch all of us, because it is everything that we work for all year. This provides a deeper understanding of what we do.
I used to be put down when someone told me that all I did was sit there. I do not want everyone who partakes in our sport to feel like I did. Look them in the eye and tell them that riding is not a sport that deals with a ball or a race against time, but it does teach you how to communicate with a special type of team... a team that does not necessarily speak the same language, but can communicate through sound, touches, and squeezes. Why don't they try that sometime?
About the Author Kelsey McMahan, Region 7 Director
The 1st time I trained a horse for Tevis I was a still a Junior and knowing what my sister Kelsey had gone though (5 sponsors, one at almost every check) I decided to do a Tevis/Quilty exchange with an Australian rider. So I trained my horse for Tevis and crewed for him, he completed! Then I got to go to Australia, and what an amazing trip that was! So I knew what it took to train a horse for a Tevis completion, so now that I could ride unsponsored I was ready to make my first attempt. This marks our families 4th trip to Tevis and the 1st attempt for both Tessa (still a junior) and I.
Since we train together my sisters and I hoped to ride together, but we would ride to benefit the horses. I was selected to be in the first pen and Kelsey and Tessa (Kelsey was sponsoring Tessa) would have to start in Pen 2. We were separated before we even started, and maybe that attributed to my horse Cody going a little crazy at the start. You wouldn't have known he had started the Tevis before or that he was 17 an experienced endurance horse with almost 2000 miles, quite honestly I think people thought I was on a green 5 year old the way he was carrying on. To all those around me I truly apologize, Cody never gave me any reason to think he would be giving me such a hard time. We had pre-ridden the start and the finish and not a single issue.
He was bucking and putting on a small rodeo for about the 1st 20 miles and when we got to cougar rock and were about to go around, I decided because of all the bucking he had done he surely would not get a completion today so I better get that photo. We turned around and made our way over to the path….then up up and away! Wow that was amazing and Cody was focused, we got the photo but more than that it was exhilarating and it seemed to get Cody's attention.
He finally settled in just as my sisters caught up to me and we rode into Robinson Flat together. Cody pulsed down quickly and now to the vets to see if he had pulled anything during our rodeo, nope trotted out perfectly getting all A's on his vet card. All the horses did great so an hour to try and figure out what in the world was going on…maybe it was the spare boots I was carrying on my saddle? Take those off, check the saddle pad and girth for burrs or anything that could be causing pain, nothing.
That had literally been the hardest ride of my life, I was mentally and physically exhausted and we were only 1/3 done. I refueled and joked with my family to get pumped up and ready to tackle the rest of this trail. As we saddled up for our next 30 miles with no crew I contemplated what to do if he started up again, nothing I could do except ride my best and hope that riding with my sisters would help.
Into the canyons…wow the trails were narrow and the drop-offs steep. When there were opportunities I would get off and run next to Cody. He really likes to stay shoulder to shoulder and that wasn't working so well on the narrow trails. I was trying to stay in front of him but he kept budging up to be next to me, as I tried pushing in front again my foot slipped and the next thing I know I was off the side screaming for Tessa to grab Cody as he was trying to follow me down over the cliff. Tessa caught Cody just in time and as I scrambled up, grabbing on to bushes and digging my nails into the side of the mountain I realize we are now holding up riders on this dangerous narrow trail. I decide for the best interest of both Cody and myself, I would not dismount again.
Could this day get any worse, I thought to myself. Well just as we came out of one of the canyons I could feel that Cody was off, so I got off to see that his shoe was twisted and he had a rock wedged in between the sole and the shoe. Riders were trying to help offering boots and such, but his shoe would not come off so a boot wouldn't help. I told the girls to go on as we were close to the cut off times and I did not want them to get DQ because of me.
I got the rock out but the shoe was still twisted and tight so I could not get it off. Just then Paul Sidio (fellow Quilty exchange rider) rode up beside me and got off to help. Paul rides cavalier when it's offered so he is used to interesting possible problems and had the solution to mine in his pack. He carry's cast tape for emergency shoeing problems. He worked quickly and soon we had Cody's hoof and shoe wrapped in casting tape. He was sound again so we got on and rode into Michigan Bluff.
Quick story to my Mom and Dad while they helped cool our horses and off we went. When we got to the Chicken Hawk vet check the farrier fixed the shoe quickly and we were back on track. Coming into to Foresthill we made pretty good time about 20 minutes behind my sisters. What a day…Cody still getting A's on his vet card and not showing any signs of fatigue. I knew with night coming on that he could get fired up again and as my sisters left the vet check he was clearly agitated that he was not going with them.
Paul's Australian rider had gotten pulled and he was just a couple minutes behind, so I waited for him at the out timer so we could leave together, I really did not want to ride into the darkness of the California Loop by myself. Paul was really fun to ride with and our horses got along great together and after the day I had I was really relieved to have company. All was going well and we were making great time passing lots of horses that were getting tired. Then for no apparent reason Cody decided to start bucking again. Really? Ninety miles on the Tevis trail and you have the energy to buck? OMG…I just wanted to cry, but I sucked it up and just continued on riding through an occasional buck.
It was great to see my Mom and Dad just before we trotted across the bridge in the moonlight. We had ridden out to here a couple of times, Cody knew the way to the finish and he was finally focused again. Paul had picked up the pace so much that I actually had to ask him to slow down just a bit. Surprising we had closed the gap on Kelsey and Tessa and finished right behind them only minutes apart.
Did I say that right…finished! Yes, we had done it, I never expected the day to be this extremely hard, but it was and we preserved! We completed…I got the buckle (a legacy buckle) and the cougar rock picture, and stories to tell for the rest of my life. Both my sisters completed too, 100% for my family, not bad for 3 girls from the upper great plains of South Dakota! The Tevis gods were very gracious to us and for that I am grateful. A special thanks to Paul for saving my ride with his casting tape and to my family for crewing & cheering me on…you are the best!
About the Author Camey Kimbler is the current AHYA Vice President
Hi everyone, my name is Desirae, and I'm the Region V youth co-director. I'm 18 years old, I just graduated high school this June, and I will be attending Washington State University in mid August.
I have a very interesting story about how I got into horses. Most people started riding when they were newborns, and always had horses. For me, I had that start with soccer. My dad has held many different positions with Federal Way United (Now Federal Way Football Club), the Federal Way Soccer Association, as well as in District III. I played soccer all of my younger years, always spent my weekends watching and playing games. Then, when I was 10 I enrolled in 4-H as a horseless member. I had a good friend who showed in 4-H so I would go to the shows to help them groom or whatever they needed. Three years later, at the county fair I met Nancy. Nancy asked me why I didn't ride, and when I told her she said she knew of a horse that I could ride! I was super excited, but I knew that my mom would probably say no. Surprisingly, she said yes, but I wouldn't show, no county fair, and so on. That didn't work out so well, the next year I was showing a half arabian mare (that I later purchased) named DMW Dancing Slippers (Legs) at the county fair.
And so it began. I showed at four county fairs total as well as two state fairs. I started showing the Arab circuit during that time. I didn't do so well though, always placing last or not placing at all. Thinking I was riding western when I was really hand galloping instead of loping. I had a trainer tell me that Legs was just not cut out to be a western horse and would only go hunter. Then I met Richard, with Opus Arabians in the fall of 2012. I started taking lessons from him and it turns out I really did have a western horse!
This month, I attended Youth Nationals. I was so honored to be there, just because I was always told that I couldn't. But I did! I showed in Showmanship, Western Pleasure JTR, as well as Western Pleasure JOTR. I made the cut from my section into the SF/F in Showmanship! I was so excited. My goal was to make just one cut. I did not top ten, but I felt that I had a great pattern, and really that is what matters!
Although, there was something even more exciting than making the cut in showmanship. I got to carry the American Flag on both Friday and Saturday night! This was such an honor, and a lot of fun!
The point I'm trying to get at here is that just because you are told you can't doesn't mean you should believe them. Prove them wrong! Remember, it is not always just about the ribbon, it is about the experience and the fun that you enjoy while you are there. I had so much fun at youth nationals, I wish that I could do it again.
In a week I get to go on a campout trail ride, this will be a great last hoorah before I go to college. This just shows how versatile our arabian horses are! Have a great rest of your summer, and go hug your arabians. Set goals, achieve them, set more.
The motto that I live by at the shows now is this, "Do your best, don't worry about the rest". The King County 4-H president says this before every fair. Thanks Jim, for all you have done.
About the Author Desirae Woodford is a current Region 5 Co-Director
Eight years ago, I began my competitive riding career with my coach's Polish Arabian, Andy. We attended shows hosted by numerous organizations, such as the West Michigan Arabian Horse Association, English Western Horse Association, Michigan Interscholastic Horsemanship Association, and 4H. Andy was the best partner a girl could ask for, and I can honestly say I learned more from him than from any other horse I've ridden. He definitely was the reason I fell in love with the breed.
Then, four years in, something life-changing happened: I graduated high school and enrolled in college. I chose to attend a college close to home so I could keep riding Andy, but making that transition and adjusting to college life while trying to spend as much time with Andy as I had previously was really tough. I remember feeling broken-hearted yet resigned when I decided that I would have to stop riding while I was in school.
Sound familiar to anyone?
Well, I ended up transferring to Central Michigan University, where I decided I would do a lot more research on different sports and extracurriculars so I could be more involved. Previously, I had been vaguely aware that some schools had equestrian teams, but once I learned more about the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) I decided to try riding again in college.
For the past couple years now I have competed with CMU's equestrian team, and I have continued to learn a lot! There are many things to adjust to when transitioning to college riding, especially if it's through IHSA, but it is a positive change.
To me, the biggest change was having to adapt to constantly changing horses. In competition, a rider draws the name of his or her horse shortly before their class, mounts during the class before, and picks up the reins once the groom leads them into the arena. By doing this, the field is judged more fairly on their equitation and not on the horsemanship of their temporary partner in the ring. Before IHSA, I was definitely a "one-horse rider" and unaccustomed to changing horses. Now, I feel comfortable with almost any horse and am much smarter about how I adapt and listen to each different ride. This is the greatest asset I have gained from collegiate competition to date.
One of the easiest transitions involved my equipment and financial situation. Since I had experience showing previously, I already had numerous show clothes - everything I needed to continue in college. It wasn't necessary to purchase anything else. Also, since it's no secret that college is a drain financially, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that competing in college is generally not as expensive as competing independently at shows of similar caliber. It varies from school to school, especially if the team is varsity or not, but the fact that each rider is only responsible for his or her own expenses (and not a horse's) makes a huge difference.
Finally, college riding gives you a team. Riding is generally an independent sport, so the college experience is fairly unique. Not only have I gotten to continue practicing the sport I love, I have also gained friends at college with similar interests. It really helped me to find my niche at school.
The experiences I have had in college have only excited me to reenter the horse world independently after graduation. In time, I plan to purchase a couple new partners for myself. I've always wanted to stay involved with the Arabian breed, but I am also looking into adopting an OTTB (off-track Thoroughbred) after working with so many of them at school.
So whenever anyone asks me if I recommend riding in college, I will always answer yes. It is so imperative never to give up on something that is truly important to you and it helps you maintain your sense of self in a time when everything around you is changing.
Hi all! I'm Laura, your Past President. I put this blog together to help you learn more about the riding opportunities available after you graduate from high school and, in some cases, from the youth division. Though my experience isn't the same as yours will be, I hope you'll still gain some valuable information from my story! You can find more info through the links throughout the post.
The Penn State Dressage Club was founded in 2010, my first year as a college student. It offers undergraduates the opportunity to take dressage lessons at Standing Ovation Equestrian Center, attend clinics, participate in community service projects, and compete with other colleges in Region C Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) shows.
My parents have always supported my riding goals and understood my need for barn time, but I had to prove that I would be able to balance my studies and other activities before I could bring my own horse to college. By being a member of the dressage team, I was able to get my horse fix during my weekly lesson. And trust me, as a Marketing major and Equine Science minor, I needed that barn time more than ever between classes and homework to relieve stress.
When you start college it is important to get involved and find a group of people that you can connect with to make the transition easier. Being a part of a collegiate riding team gave me hose activities to look forward to on the weekends such as sleepover at team members' houses the night before IDA shows, road trips to horse expos, clinics with many insightful trainers, volunteering at animal shelters and preparing for our annual show. During the weekdays, I always loved taking a break from my studies for horse-talk time at our meetings. There aren't too many people who want to talk about dressage with me between classes in the business building! But when I would attend my Equine Science classes, I got to chat with many of my teammates.
I believe that involvement with a collegiate riding team, or any horse club on campus, will certainly improve your college experience if you love horses like I do. Any undergraduate student, regardless of previous horseback riding experience, is encouraged to join Penn State Dressage. We have had some team members that have never ridden before, many that were converting from another discipline to dressage and a few that have competed extensively through the upper levels of dressage. If you'd like to learn more about the team, check us out onFacebook or feel free to contact me!
About the Author Laura Killian is the 2012-2013 AHYA Past President and served as President 2011-2012. She is currently a junior at Pennsylvania State University, studying both Business Marketing and Equine Science.
AHYA Gets Crankin' on 2013 at the March Meeting
By Tori Oto
Hi, everyone! Tori here again. AHYA has been quite active in the past 3 months, most notably with our March Board meeting in Denver, Colo. on March 15-17. Most of the members arrived in the evening on Thursday and went on a tour of the city on Friday. Our Region 1 Director, Nicole Gibson, sent us her recap of the tour day:
"We all met early Friday morning to embark on our adventure to the popular concert venue, Red Rock Amphitheatre. First we enjoyed the natural beauty of the amphitheatre from afar and then we took a trip down to the bottom onto the stage and absorbed the view from down below. We explored a museum explaining both the history of the venue and a listing of all of the musicians who had had a chance to play there over the years. Our next adventure continued the music theme: lunch at the Hard Rock Café. Then we stopped by 90octane, a digital marketing agency, for a presentation on social media. We learned about all of the ways we could use the Internet and social media to elevate the youth activity in our regions. Finally, we made our way to the Colorado State Capitol. While we got a tour of the building, we were also able to watch the legislature in session. Shortly after, we toured the museum and learned a bit about the history of the legislature."
The girls then met up with the rest of the Board to have dinner and take part in a few team-bonding activities at the hotel. We played Birdie on a Perch (Camille, AHYA President, and I are reigning champions), Never Have I Ever, and a strange and slightly dangerous life-size version of Rock, Paper, Scissors (Shawna and Ms. Debbie have videos I'm sure they'll share if you ask them to).
At our Board meeting the next day, we talked about a lot of new ideas for 2013, including Youth Nationals. Our theme this year, "Root for the Home Team," encourages everyone to take pride in every aspect of their region, including their sports teams. The Board this year also decided to take on a completely new project; we are going to have a national level fundraiser this year at Youth Nationals. A certain percentage of the proceeds from our Youth Nationals activities are going to be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we hope that we'll make enough money to grant someone their "wish," which is what the Make-A-Wish Foundation is all about. I'm really proud of the board this year for taking on such a large-scale project because it's not just about what AHYA can do for itself and its members, it's also about what we as an Association can do to support charities both in our community and on a more global scale.
Something else new for the board this year is that Camille and I will be attending the American Youth Horse Council Symposium this April in Connecticut. This annual event includes a variety of presentations, discussions, and exhibits for equine Associations like AHA, 4-H, FFA, and more. There we will meet up with these groups to help spread the word about AHYA! Additionally, make sure to check out the AHYA's ad in Blaze magazine as well as the newly revamped Youth Section in Modern Arabian Horse (to come in Issue 3)!
The AHYA Board of Directors has a lot in store for the upcoming year, and our March Meeting was the perfect kick off. All the members, along with the support of the new AHA President, Cynthia Richardson; the new AHA Vice President, Nancy Harvey; and the new Youth & Family Programs Director, Shawna Strickland, make a great team to facilitate the advancement of our beloved Association.
Talk to you soon! Tori
About the Author Tori Oto is the 2012-2013 AHYA Vice President and 2012 AHA Youth of the Year. She is also chair of the Youth Activities Committee, in addition to serving on the Membership & Fundraising Promotions and Equitation/Showmanship Committees. She's our blog master for 2013, so if you have any great ideas for content, be sure to let her know!