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5 New Year Resolutions That All Equestrians Need (or at least I do)
  • By Danika Overstreet
  • January 2018

The new year is right around the corner, and while I am spending my last few days of winter break relaxing and desperately trying not to think about finals coming up, I have also had some time to reflect on my horsey endeavors the past year, and there is definitely a few bad habits I could break. I have a feeling I am not the only equestrian out here struggling with these things, so I am writing them down in hopes that you may either learn from me (and my laziness) and add these to your resolutions list, or sigh and say “me” while not changing anything (most likely what I will end up doing).

  1. Resolution #1: CLEAN YOUR DANG TRAILER AFTER SHOWS! I am the absolute worst at cleaning out my trailer after shows. While I love organizing my things at shows and making everything look “cute” and proper, when it’s time to pack it all up your lucky if you can see the floor of my little tack room. It’s just soooooo difficult after a long show to have any motivation beyond getting you and your horse ready for bed. I typically remain blissfully unaware of the true state of my trailer until it is two days before the next show and I am looking at it in dismay wondering how long that salt block in a bag in the corner has been there. While this makes cleaning your trailer a bit of an adventure because you have no idea what your past self is about to throw at you, it’s not practical. Therefore, my first resolution is to clean out my trailer after EVERY show… pray for me.
  2. Resolution #2: Bring veggies, not sweets to the shows! Horse shows for me are one giant excuse to treat myself to whatever unhealthy snacks the vendor might have, and to whatever cookie or doughnuts happen to be laying in front of my barns tack stall. Our barn, like most I have witnessed, bring food or snacks to the shows. Often these include of all the sugary items literally every athlete will tell you to avoid before a competition, but guess what I do? I eat them anyway. While horse shows are lots of fun and can be a time to let loose a bit (after the stress of classes of course), maybe bringing a veggie platter to the next show may be within my and my breeches best interest.
  3. Resolution #3: Are those polo wraps or…? One of the dirtiest and messiest things I own are my polo wraps. As any average equestrian and lover of colorful things, I have about 4-5 pairs of polo wraps. Why? Who knows! But all of them are disgusting. You would think with this many pairs I would be able to keep a few clean but no! All the dirt from the arena has permanently stained some of my wraps I’m pretty sure, and despite my collection I am only capable of using one set at a time for months. This year my goal is to wash my wraps frequently!
  4. Resolution #4: Spend more time just enjoying my horses! My horses are my best friends, and I love them with all my heart, but it can be hard sometimes to remember to just enjoy my time with them. Between the stress of school and showing, it feels like I have no time to just chill with my horses, that every time I am at the barn I need to be training. This year I want to set aside more time to just chill with my horses and relax, I’m sure they would enjoy it and I know I would too. YOTY small border
  5. Resolution #5: Be more confident in myself. While the first 3 resolutions were me just trying to reprimand my lazy self, this is a bit more personal. I think all equestrians could benefit from showing a bit more ferocity and confidence in themselves. Whether it be the show ring, in lessons, or even just in our daily lives, we need to be less afraid of making mistakes. Failing is all a part of learning and if we didn’t fail we wouldn’t have the chance to succeed. Horse back riding is a demanding and emotionally challenging sport, it is no easy task and it is hard to not blame ourselves for every little wrong doing, but if we stick together and remind one another that its okay to not always be on a winning streak, I think we would all be a little happier!

I hope you enjoyed these resolutions and join me this 2018 in adding a bit of organization and positivity into your life!


About the Author
Danika Overstreet is the 2017 Youth of the Year

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


The Lasting Impact AHYA Has Had on Me
  • By Flora ElmColone
  • November 2017

I joined the AHYA board when I was 13 years old, not yet out of middle school and completely unaware of how much I would grow to love it. Five years later, and I attended my last board meeting a few months ago. I’m now in college, and I still think fondly about my years with AHYA every day.


The first month of living in the dorms is a blur of meeting new people, trying to remember names, getting to know the people on your floor, and exchanging social media profiles with countless people. As I searched the Instagram username of an out of state student, I saw that he was followed by someone I knew. “Oh my gosh, do you know ____?” I asked him. “Yeah,” he said, “We went to high school together. How do you know her?” “We served on the AHYA Board together for a couple years,” I answered. He met my response with a look of apprehension. I simplified it for him, telling him we were connected through the “horse world.”

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The amount of people here at UC Berkeley that are amazed, confused, and excited by this “horse world” is remarkable. But each day I am reminded that while it is indeed special, it is not so confusing at all. We are a community bound together around a shared passion, and passion is a very common thing. After joining the board of a club here at Cal as an intern, I started getting major déjà vu. Here I am, at the start of another new time in my life, similar to 13-year-old me embarking on a journey with an amazing group of young horse lovers. I feel the same excitement when discussing the importance of global girl’s education with my club here as I did planning Youth Nationals with the AHYA board four years ago.


And I think that’s the most important thing. To find a group of people who care about something as fervently as you do, and to get excited. With AHA Convention approaching this month and the Youth of the Year about to be announced, I definitely miss being involved with the youth board. But I know the current Board of Directors is going to take AHYA forward in an amazing direction within the next year, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish. Good luck with the 2017-2018 show season, and go find your passion people!


About the Author
Flora ElmColone is the 2017-2018 AHYA Immediate Past President

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


Serving on the AHYA Board
  • By Kate Lewis
  • June 2017

My time serving on the AHYA Board of Directors has resulted in many of my most cherished memories and is an opportunity I will be forever thankful for. Countless doors have opened, lifelong friendships have been made, I was able to enjoy so many new places around the country, and most importantly I became more involved with the breed we all know and love.


I remember being 14 and nervous as ever interviewing to be the youth director of Region 11. All those nerves became worth it when I recieved the news that I had gotten the position, and that was only the very beginning.


In November of 2013 I traveled to Lexington, KY to attend my very first AHYA board meeting/ AHA convention. Being one of the youngest attendeeds, surrounded by numerous older board members, nevermind that it was an entirely new experience in an unfamiliar place, you can probably imagine how nervous I was. I remember wandering cluelessly thru the hotel trying to find my way to the President's Banquet. When I finally found it I was immediately welcomed by other members of the board as they whisked me away to mingle and enjoy the night with them... the rest is history.


The past 4 years have been filled with memories that go above and beyond anything I could have expected when I first joined the board. From traveling, visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Colorado State Capitol building, Budweiser Clydesdales in New Hampshire, enjoying dinners with the board, bonding in the hotel, meeting adults in the industry, having my voice heard and making an impact, scholarship opportunities, and the numerous friends that I will cherish always. I have gained so much from my time on the board and it is something I would highly recommend to anyone who loves the Arabian horse.


About the Author
Kate Lewis is the 2016-2017 AHYA Vice President

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 



Encouraging Future Judges
  • By Katie Treadwell
  • May 2017

Have you ever wondered how judging works, but didn’t have an opportunity to learn about it? Region 10 is working to solve this with a series of judging clinics and our annual Regional Judging Contest.

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Judging is an educational activity that helps build confidence and life skills for many youth. Special classes are put together with four horses in each, and contestants must be able to orally defend their placings to a judge. Being part of a judging team teaches youth the skills to become an authoritative person and enhance their organizational abilities.


Beginning on February 4, 2017 we kicked off with “A view from Center Ring” at Hesten Park. We had three wonderful clinicians, Larry Hoffman, Van Jacobsen, and Hillary Hoffman. With about 55 people in attendance, there was a great turnout of people throughout the Arabian breed and 4-H/FFA members! We reviewed class specifications for Western, Hunter, English, and Halter, and went over how to look at horses and riders from a judge's perspective. Key terms for judging Arabians as well as tips for staying organized were also discussed, along with where to find additional resources for furthering education.


AHYA_Blog2017-05_pic2 border“Perfecting Oral Reasons” was our next judging clinic at Westridge Farms on March 18, 2017. There was an amazing 115 people in attendance! Here our speakers Kate Carlson, Amanda Solie, and Molly Schwister helped everyone judge Purebred Halter, Country Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, and Western Pleasure. Kate spoke of public speaking, voice projection, eye contact, talking with a smile, taking notice of the little things such as your nail polish or boots, and visualization of the classes. Molly expanded on facial expressions, the format of reasons and what they are, and opening statements. Amanda really explained confidence, note taking, shorthand, placing your classes, final inspections, class cuts, legal handling of equipment, as well as degrees of difficulty and how they affect your placings.


A few things that Kate, Amanda, and Molly really covered were stances, attire, hairstyles, grants, and terminology. Looking professional, such as dark colored slacks and a blazer, is important for an Arabian Judging Contest. One of the best things you can do to improve your reasons is memorize your terminology, and use the correct breed terms.


AHYA_Blog2017-05_pic3 borderThe Region 10 Arabian Judging Contest was held at Conway Arabians on April 1, 2017. We had 20 4-H/FFA, AHA, and Collegiate teams from MN, WI, and IA in attendance. Contestants judged Purebred and Half Arabian Halter, Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, and English Pleasure. Awards and Cash prizes were given out in many categories! Overall 4H/FFA Team went to Corridor Competitive Equine, Overall AHA Team was the Minnesota Half Arabian Horse Association, Overall Collegiate Team went to the Multi College Team, Overall 4-H/FFA Individual  Maquelah Schueler, Overall AHA Individual Katie Treadwell, and Overall Collegiate Individual Andrea Lowen were some of our winners. There was even a foal born during the reasons portion of the contest!


Many of our Region’s youth enjoy taking part of the judging opportunities we have to offer. We see an increasing amount of interest and contestants each year, and hope that continues! The Arabian Horse Association has judging guides as well as class criteria on their website, and an official AHA YouTube channel with sample class videos to practice with. Any of these people mentioned are also willing to help you out if you have any questions about judging. I hope to see you on an Arabian Horse Judging Team soon!

About the Author
Katie Treadwell is the 2016-2017 AHYA Region 10 Co-Vice Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


Why Do We Wear White Breeches?
  • By Liz Elken
  • April 2017

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Those of us who show in Dressage, Sport Horse Under Saddle, and Show Hack may be wondering: whose brilliant idea was it to wear white breeches? Especially for those who prepare their own horse(s) at shows, white breeches are hard to keep clean. The tiniest speck of dirt can ruin the picture of cleanliness that we present to the judges. So, this prompted an investigation: whose idea was it?


The first forms of modern dressage came about in the 1800s and according to USDF, “it was the 1912 Stockholm Games where the 'military test' first appeared and evolved into the separate Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing, and stadium jumping.” The clothes we wear “dat[ed] back to the mid-1800s, when style and dress accompanied the affluence of the Industrial Revolution” (AHA). The epitome of this style of dress was George Bryan “Beau” Brummell, who was known as the “Father of English Dandyism” (Dressage Different).  According to Urban Dictionary, an example of a “dandy” is “men who consider themselves to be arbiters of culture and refinement and wit. Often considered... overtly flaming.”  He is seen in the painting below as “wearing an ensemble that complies with all current FEI rules for a Grand Prix competitor” (Dressage Different).  According to USEF “for all tests above Fourth Level, the dress code is: a dark tailcoat or a dark jacket with protective headgear...and white or light colored breeches, stock or tie or integrated stand-up collar, gloves, and black riding boots.” The clothes that we wear for Show Hack classes are modeled after Grand Prix Dressage, so it is safe to say that Beau would fit in; as far as the basic style of his clothes. (The tassels on his boots, however, are another thing entirely.)

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From this research, I can conclude that the clothes we wear for Show Hack and Dressage were originally meant to be worn by aristocrats. When people went riding, they wanted to emulate aristocrats by dressing like them, most likely because riding is seen as a sport for the wealthy. Wearing white breeches was seen as a status symbol, because the aristocrats could afford to not get them dirty. For example, we don’t wear white breeches to muck out stalls just like someone from the 1800s wouldn’t wear them to do farm work, only to a formal event. This could also be why we only wear a shadbelly and top hat for advanced classes like Grand Prix or Show Hack, instead of a short coat like in lower level dressage or Sport Horse Under Saddle classes.


About the Author
Liz Elken is the 2016-2017 AHYA Region 5 Co-Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


“2016 Dressage Attire and Equipment.” USDF, 1 Apr. 2016, files.usef.org/assets/VqIPYDBJxJA/2016dressageattireequipmentbooklet.pdf.

“Arabian Horses: Disciplines.” www.arabianhorses.org/discover/arabian-horses/disciplines/index.html .

Bonnie Rae Walker. “Shadbellies: Uniformly Impractical.” Dressage Different, 12 Dec. 2014, www.dressagedifferent.com/2014/12/12/shadbellies-uniformly-impractical. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.

“Dandy.” Urban Dictionary, www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dandy. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.

“History of Dressage. USDF, www.usdf.org/about/about-dressage/history.asp. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017.


Painting: https://dressagedifferent.com/2014/12/12/shadbellies-uniformly-impractical/


Take a Chill Pill!
  • By Kailey Wessel
  • March 2017

We’ve all been there. There you are, all dressed up, on your horse in the warm up ring. Everyone’s telling you that you look great and you are feeling it too. But then, the announcer comes on and says those dreaded words "Class number whatever it is may now enter the arena." All of a sudden you've forgotten how to breathe, a wall of butterflies hit you like a freight train, so much you might even feeI a bit nauseous. You look at your trainer with desperation and they think you might pass out off your horse.


Then before you know it, you’re trotting in on the rail to strut your stuff with your faithful Arabian sidekick. But how can you keep yourself calm in those moments before you enter the ring? Here are a few tips to keep your nerves in check in the warmup ring! 

  1. Deep Breathes: You know you're horse, and you know what your doing!
  2. Sing a Song in Your Head: It always helps to distract yourseIf for a second, take a step away from the ring and hum a tune that makes you smile!
  3. Put Yourself in a BubbIe: Don't look around watch everyone around you, only think about you, look at your horse and maybe even close your eyes and only think about you and your teammate.
  4. Think About the Bigger Picture: Think about how you will improve from the last class, and what you want to get out of the class.
  5. And Lastly, Remember it's All About Having Fun: Winning is great, it an amazing feeling to come out of the ring with that blue ribbon, but remember the more important thing is to be the best you can be and enjoy the ride!


These are tips that have always helped me to relax before I go into the arena, and I hope that you will benefit from them too! Remember to have fun and worry about yourself, rather than everyone else around you! Now go give your Arabian horse a hug!

About the Author
Kailey Wessel is the 2016-2017 AHYA Region 3 Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


Mountains and Valleys
  • By Makena Echenique
  • March 2017

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Having a horse is full of metaphorical ‘mountains and valleys’. There are high points, and there are low points. Some days you’ll be on top of your game and pretty positive that you’re ready for Nationals. Other days you might feel like even the small regional shows would be a challenge. Nevertheless, your horse is still there. As a team, you’ll climb these mountains and descend into these valleys. Through my experience with my horse, Mikhailey’s Comet, I can clearly see the ranges of mountains we’ve climbed and the stretches of valleys we’ve crossed. Recently at Scottsdale, we climbed the biggest mountain we’ve come across together and we made it to the top by having a great show like I’m sure many of you had as well if you attended. I’m sure we’re bound to hit a valley, but we haven’t come across it yet. Although some mountains might be bigger than others and some valleys may be longer than others, we can always guarantee that our horse will be by us the whole time.


About the Author
Makena Echenique is the 2016-2017 AHYA Region 3 Secretary

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


Northwest EquestFest, Part 2
  • By Danika Overstreet
  • February 2017

AHYA_Blog2017-02_pic1 BorderThis January 7th I found myself once again surrounded by one of the most passionate and inspiring groups of people I know, my region! Region 5 held another Equestfest this year to celebrate our passion for these beloved creatures as well as educate ourselves and any public who wanted to come and join the fun. This was the second Equestfest organized by our wondrous director Michelle Pease Paulson and Shannon Bedell along with the help of many volunteers.


This year I helped out at our mini AHYA booth in the front again. It was so wonderful to be able to see all young kids from 4-H or even no horse background come up and ask questions. Part of it may have been the fact that we had a bunch of coloring supplies and Horseman Magazines with shiny colors, but that’s just technicalities. We had quite the large silent auction full of unique and useful items. My dad was fortunate enough to win a horseshoe hand crafted with premium stones and gems and copper. Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t able to snag the large Pilchuck first aid kit she had her eyes on, but the amount of money that that product alone was able to raise was just incredible! All the proceeds of the Silent Auction went to the Region 5 Youth and Judging Team as well as to Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. The Region also got some beautiful cakes donated to host a dessert dash at the awards banquet. Mike Whelihan and Ron Copple gave very moving speeches about the Arabian Horseman’s Distress Fund (AHDF), and through the dessert dash we were able to raise thousands of dollars for AHDF! There were double the vendors this year, so everyone got to enjoy a little shopping on the side.
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AHYA_Blog2017-02_pic3 BorderThere were many memorable and vibrant speakers at the convention. I, personally, was able to attend the seminar on confidence as well as the one on rider fitness. The confidence seminar I found very insightful and a great deal of help. The best advice I heard was to write down your goal for the upcoming year, but write it in past tense. Then read this out loud to yourself. This sounds as if you have already completed your goal and boosts your confidence that you can. If you act as if it is a certainty, not a maybe, you will be more motivated and successful in completing your mission. I thought this was so innovative as I personally have never looked at a distant goal that way, but I found it to be quite helpful! The rider fitness seminar focused a lot on stability and balance both mentally and physically as well as some aspects of flexibility. I learned some new steps to help with my mobility as a rider, all of which I have begun doing and so far I have found them quite useful! There was another fashion show this year as well, showcasing a variety of disciplines and styles.

Overall the NW Equestfest was even grander this year and I enjoyed all the opportunities it had to offer for both the youth and the adults! It was a great experience and I love how there is so much knowledge and experience to be obtained from it. I look forward to attending another one in the future!

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About the Author
Danika Overstreet is the 2016-2017 AHYA Secretary

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


  • By Makena Echenique
  • January 2017

Ever since I was roughly 3 years old, I’ve been around horses. I’ve been in this lifelong team with horses for a long time, starting with my first pony named Spanky. Granted, I didn’t quite understand what I was doing on the back of the horse until age 8. I began understanding that riding a horse was a 2-way conversation with a lesson horse named Prince. Prince made it very clear when I was just flat out wrong, but sometimes Prince liked to take me for a ride every now and then. Riding isn’t a sport where you can go solo. Even if you’re the only rider in the ring, you’ve got a teammate with you. That teammate is your horse. The communication you have with your teammate isn’t necessarily verbal, either. A majority of the time, you communicate with your 2,000 pound or plus teammate in complete silence.

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With my chestnut mare, Mikhailey, teamwork has been a very prominent subject in our relationship. Mikhailey is a very kind and sweet mare, but is not afraid to put me in my place or even test me a little, just for precautionary measures. In these times of difficulty, it is a give and take procedure. It may take a few lessons for me to understand what she’s telling me or for her to realize what I’m telling her. I cannot expect to be the only person participating in this silent conversation because with that mentality, I cannot change. If I dictate the conversation, my team will face consequences of a never-ending argument. I need to take the words and advice from my trainer and horse if I want to improve with my team. But, on the other hand, Mikhailey cannot dictate the conversation either because that will lead to consequences as well. In order for this dispute to be solved, all sides of the story need to be taken into account and negotiating must be done. It is important to find if it’s simply operator error and I need the advice of my trainer to fix my mistakes, or if my horse is pulling my leg.  Recently, we’ve had many conversations without saying a word… or neighing in Mikhailey’s case. We’ve been learning some new procedures and tricks, I like to call them, to improve our performance. As I ride my mare, listening to our coach/trainer’s instruction, I can almost hear Mikhailey talking to me through her body language. Most of the time she’s asking, ‘Makena, what are you doing?’ But with the guidance of our fabulous trainer, we finally understand each other for the time being. Without this silent conversation and teamwork, we wouldn’t be where we are now.


Mikhailey and I have been through our fair share of bad classes, and good classes. We’ve had our share of arguments, days where our ride was as perfect as it gets, and lessons where it wasn’t the best or the worst. And in our future, there are bound to be more of these metaphorical ‘valleys and mountains’ or ups and downs that we’ll come upon. It is teamwork that will get us across those valleys and up those mountains whenever they arise. It is teamwork that creates the unbreakable bond between rider and horse.

About the Author
Makena Echenique is the 2016-2017 Region 3 Youth Secretary

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today! 


Managing Horses and School
  • By Gigi Hurst
  • December 2016

Many youth today are into equestrian sports. But, after some time, many youth find it hard to balance schoolwork and riding at the same time. It can be hard to find time to ride your horse, deal with all the home work and the drama of high school. Horses take a lot of time and hard work to ensure they are well cared for and everything else in between. Horses can teach you great time management, but it can still be hard to get that homework done after long days at the barn. Some days are more exhausting then others, but regardless everyday spent at the barn is tiring.


As a high school student myself, I can relate to these issues. I know how hard it can be to balance horses with academics. Riding on the weekends can take the pressure off a little, but there is always that lingering pressure to get your homework done. It is always hanging around! In saying this, it can also be hard to find the drive to get out of the house and get to the barn.


For many young equestrians, a trip to the barn can be a release from the stressful world of school and daily chorse. Between the constant 3-4 (or more) hours of homework every night and the daily chorses of cleaning your room and helping clean up or make dinner, it can really be difficult to get out to the barn, especially when it is far away. Many equestrians ride on the weekends so that they can get their homework done and help out around the house. I ride on the weekends most of the time, but I have noticed that by about Thursday I really need a break and it can be rough having to wait until Saturday. I know many other equestrians feel this way too.

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So, to manage the daily house chorse and homeowrk and of course the horses, I have noticed that proper time management is key to getting everything done and still having time to have fun with the horses. Horses can teach you how to manage your time, especially if you have more than one to ride. They can teach you to not waste a second in the day. This can help you with the homework load by teaching you to get any work done in a timely manner, but still have it be thorough and detailed. These skills are a crucial part of growing up and making sure the daily tasks get done. When you get older and have to get a job and are still into horses, but have to work 9-5 everyday, time management can help make sure everything gets done, and it helps make time for the horses.


 So, in closing, it can be difficult to manage everyday tasks, homework, and horses, but always remember, your horses will always be at the barn waiting to see your bright and shining face! Happy Holidays to all, and make sure you give your Arabian Horse a hug!


About the Author
Gigi Hurst is the 2016-2017 Region 3 Youth Vice Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!




Every Little Girl's Dream
  • By Kailey Wessel
  • December 2016

It's what every little girl dreas for, you ask everry year and one day you might recieve it: a horse for Christmas! But how do you convince your parents it's the right gift to get you this year?



There are so many reasons a horse is beneficial to children as they grow up into young adults. By owning a horse at a young age, children are able to develop themselves into better future citizens. Having a horse builds character, creating more responsible, and more universally aware young adults. Kids are constantly required to take care of an animal and friend that is completely dependent on their love and dedication. Kids have to learn to read behaviors of horses which further helps them to read the behaviors of those around them as well.


Children with horses are also more self aware and often more confident than children who are not involved in the equestrian lifestyle. Children learning to ride become more aware about their emtions, as they can translate to the horse that they are riding, and in turn, they learn to radiate confidence that may have been harder to find within themselves without their fuzzy four-legged partner.


As kids grow up, the barn proves to be a safe place for them, and provides many role models and lifelong friends. Having people to look up to and to play with that share theeir same passions and interests, allows kids to grow up in a happier environment. As they grow into young adults, they are able to become the role model and friend they had as a child.

So if you think you might need some back-up this year as you ask for that Arabian horse, or any horse this Christmas, throw in some facts about the benefits of horses to seal the deal! Have a Merry Christmas, and go give your horse a Happy Holiday Hug!

About the Author
Kailey Wessel is the 2016-2017 Region 3 Youth Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


Mr. and Ms. Region 10
  • By Hunter Offord
  • August 2016

AHYA_Blog2016-08_pic2 BorderOn Friday and Saturday of Region 10 Regionals the Youth Directors held the Mr. and Ms. Region 10 competition. This competition was held as a fundraiser for the Arabian Horse Foundation. The Youth Directors made posters for each nominee showing the total amount of votes next to their pictures. Exhibitors nominated their favorite person of the Region by providing a money donation.  We had ten people who received nominations. We held voting for these people until noon on Saturday.  Then before the evening session we announced the winners and had the crowning.  With 414 votes our winner and Mr. Region 10 was Dan McConaughey. Our runner-up with 122 votes and Miss Region 10 was Madison Rose.  Finally our 2nd Runner-up was Tom Theisen with 100 votes. We also had nominations for Lara Ames, Kevin Price, Nate Soderberg, Chuck Rickart, Jordan LeFever, Bob and Val Gordon, and Jody Hoffman. The Region 10 Youth Directors would like to thank everyone who supported the fundraiser by donating or volunteering! We made over $1,800 for the Arabian Horse Foundation!



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About the Author
Hunter Offord is the 2016-2017 Region 10 Youth Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!



Eventful Month of July!
  • By Flora ElmColone
  • July 2016

It’s been an eventful month for AHYA! Youth Nationals was in July, and it was the first year in Oklahoma City. It was the first year at a new venue so everyone was trying to adjust to a place many of us had never competed at before. Although change can be difficult, I encourage you all to stay positive and think about how lucky we are to be at Youth Nationals!


AHYA Convention was on Friday the 22. We had two amazing guest speakers—thank you to Kathie Hart and Gayle Lampe for excellent presentations! I had the honor of being elected your new AHYA President. This is something I’ve worked towards for so long and I can’t wait to serve you all this upcoming year! Serving alongside me on the 2016-2017 AHYA Executive Board is Kate Lewis (Region 11) as Vice President, Danika Overstreet (Region 5) as Secretary, and Tessa Kimbler (Region 6) as Treasurer. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work with such hardworking people!


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One of the great things about AHYA is how diverse of a board we have. Tessa Kimbler, our new Treasurer, competes in the Endurance division and completed the Tevis Cup in 2014. Kate Lewis, our new Vice President has experience showing in the Sport Horse division, and Danika Overstreet has competed on her Regional Youth Judging team as well as showing in main ring. I would also like to thank our outgoing Executive Board (on which I was Secretary): Taylor Kyse, 2015-2016 President, Emily Barker, 2015-2016 Vice President and Sydney Young, 2015-2016 Treasurer for doing such a fantastic job running AHYA!


On Sunday the 24 we had the annual Parade of Regions. As always it was a fun way to connect with other youth members and show some team spirit for our regions! Congratulations to Region 5 for winning the contest with their rhythmic gymnastics themed golf cart. The pink flamingo flocks made their way all around the showgrounds again, from the Judges’ Lounge to the Performance Arena to many vendors and barns. Pigs flew into center ring with the Flying Pigs contest, which always brings friendly and fun competition. Although I may not have gone Top Ten, or won National Champion, I made some cuts and had some good rides. My horse and I grew as a team, and that’s all I can really ask for! I look forward to Youth Nationals all year, as I’m sure many of you do, and to be there, making friendships that will last a lifetime and bonds that will never be forgotten, was the best thing I could have asked for!


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Backtracking a little bit, our Region 2 Championship show was in late June. Although I am from Region 2 and am the former director, Region 2 has a new director, Natalie Zavala! Natalie did an awesome job planning activities for Region 2 and it makes me so happy to be able to stay involved on the Regional level with such a passionate and talented director! Natalie put together a silent auction which raised over $1,000, and had some other exciting fundraisers such as the annual Region 2 Ice Cream Social! Some of these proceeds will go towards sending our Region 2 Youth Judging Team to Tulsa, Oklahoma in October to compete in the youth judging contest at U.S. Nationals. Traveling to Tulsa will be Region 2 members Natalie Zavalla, Danielle Garcia (Region 2 Vice Director), Kate Day, and Sophia Hoxworth. Good luck, girls!


For most of us, show season 2015-2016 is coming to a close. As we say goodbye to another great season, I wish you all the best of luck in show season 2016-2017!


If anyone has questions about how to get involved with the AHYA Board or what it entitles, feel free to email me at flora.elmcolone@gmail.com or text me at (805)325-3983!


About the Author
Flora ElmColone is the 2016-2017 AHYA President

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


2016 American Youth Horse Council Symposium - Lexington, KY
  • By Taylor Kyse
  • April 2016

The American Youth Council Symposium of 2016 was filled with fun and enlightening learning experiences. Lexington, Kentucky was an excellent place for the symposium to be held because of all the locations one can go to in order to learn and experience the versatility of horses.


The event started at 4:30 AM on Friday morning for Emily, Brenna and myself. Our first stop of the day was to Keeneland to watch the racehorses exercise. We even saw a couple horses running against each other. We then headed back to the hotel for our second adventure of the day; and it was only 7:30 AM! We loaded the bus and headed to our next stop at Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center. I was overwhelmed by the facility and all of its resources to help rehabilitate horses. At one point I had wanted to work at or own an equine rehabilitation center like KESMARC.  I had never seen an equine swimming pool before and I found it interesting how natural it was for a horse to swim. The facility had many other systems to rehabilitate the horses, but one that I found remarkable that I hadn’t known existed was the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It was a round room that one horse would fit in at a time for about an hour and the chamber would fill with oxygen, helping improve the lungs and circulation of the horse.

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After KESMARC, we then headed to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. Until the trip, I had not known about Rood & Riddle. We saw surgeries being conducted, which surprisingly did not make me woozy. We also saw all the parts of the hospital including the recovery rooms, the MRI machine, the x-ray room, and the workout area for recovering horses. It is an amazing equine hospital. After lunch, we headed to Blue Willow Farm and watched demonstrations of their horses and what they do. I was surprised by how similar a Morgan halter horse is to an Arabian halter horse, though I know they aren’t completely the same. The owner of the facility was wonderful and explained everything in detail so we knew what we were watching and looking for throughout the demonstrations. We then headed to Shadwell farm and learned about their Thoroughbred breeding program and saw the stunning facility as well as a few of their stallions on the campus. We then headed back to the hotel and ate dinner and heard from a wonderful speaker, Patti Colbert. After dinner, we discussed in small groups with others what the issues are and what should be done regarding youth membership and getting others to start riding and competing. We learned a lot about other associations and clubs on what they are doing for the situation. Day one was filled well.


The next day, Saturday, we had breakfast while listening to the happenings of the day. Everyone then broke out to attend three consecutive sessions. The first session we attended was “Helping Horse Industry Youth Find the ‘Right Fit’ in matching Equine Interests to College Choice Options.” Though we are already in college, Emily and I learned about other colleges and what the descriptions of the equine majors within the colleges are. I believe it was helpful to know so we can better understand and explain to younger horse enthusiasts what to expect and look for when looking at colleges. The next session we attended was “internships and Their Impact on Your Equine Career.” The last session of the day was “30 Seconds to Land Your Dream Job.” It helped Emily and I come to a better understanding of what employers want, especially relating to the equine world. Emily and I are proud of ourselves because we learned that our resumes are built pretty nicely!


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After the sessions were completed for the day, buses started to leave for the Kentucky Horse Park. When we got to the park, we got to watch the Interscholastic Horse Show Nationals. And oh man, the IEA is definitely different than our Arabian shows! Not only was the show fun and interesting to watch the competition, but we were able to enjoy a pizza party and walk around the booths surrounding the arena.  We then walked around the park and saw the Al-Marah Arabian Horse exhibit, which is a wonderful display of the Arabian horse. And of course, we hit the gift shop. Brenna, Emily and I then went on a little adventure of our own to the Churchill Downs. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I plan on going there to watch a race one day when I graduate college and then get rich. That’s how it works, right?


We then headed back for the dinner. We had some delicious food and heard some wonderful speakers. We then heard from Bernie Traurig who talked about his life in the horse industry and how he believes that off-the-track Thoroughbreds are the best way to be competitive in the industry in comparison to importing Warmbloods from Europe. We also had some delicious cake for dessert and then ended our Saturday night.Sunday morning we heard another inspirational speech by Rebecca Bott. She talked about her experiences of traveling the world and helping provide healthcare for families’ horses in the poverty-stricken countries and taught the families how to provide and care correctly for their horses. She explained how only 1% of the world’s veterinarians are in the countries she attended. The horses these families own are the families’ main and biggest source of income; so she provided the healthcare so these families can live better lives and have healthier horses. It is amazing what one person can do. Following the speech, we learned about where next year’s AYHC Symposium is going to be, Danvers, Massachusetts. There are some awesome things planned for next year.


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We then broke out into our last sessions of the weekend. The first of the two sessions we attended was about what jobs are actually in the horse industry, hands-on and hands-off. The speaker, Sarah Coleman discussed how if you love horses and it is your passion, you want to be careful not to lose that passion by working hands-on every day and then you get sick of horses. Sarah discussed how she was in the hands-off industry and explained some of her amazing experiences as an editor for equestrian magazines and other companies. One of her points that I took to heart was that any degree can get you involved in the equine industry one way or another. Some degrees are more involved than others, so still be selective with what you want to do. After Sarah’s discussion, we heard from Jen Roytz who discussed the equine marketing business and the effects of social media, the good and the bad. We learned what an employer, as she was one, would look for when hiring. She also explained her experiences as a horsewoman and how she remained employed in equine business since college. The biggest thing I took away from her discussion was that the equine world is all about communication and connections. And never make anyone mad. Every week she would spend time writing notes to people she had met previously or recently thanking them for what they did for her and for what she learned. She concluded this by saying it was extremely easy for her to find employment after college because of her connections and because she wrote those notes.


In the third session of the morning, Brenna, Emily, and I presented on TAIL tours. We received a lot of interest during the session. We also got asked a lot of questions. I believe it was important for us to speak on TAIL tours because other breeds, associations, and clubs can form the same type of tour for their competitions, exhibitions, etc. We received excellent feedback and it was good recognition for the Arabian breed.


The weekend was then over. I am sad for the AYHC Symposium to be completed, but I feel that I am now a wealth of knowledge after just three days. I am sincerely grateful for having this experience to travel and see an important part of our horse industry. Thank you AHA for giving me this experience. As an AHYA member, I feel that this weekend is important for our youth. Having sent Emily and I as youth representatives, I know we will follow through and teach what we have learned and will make AHA proud.


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About the Author
Taylor Kyse was the 2015-2016 AHYA President

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


Becoming an Equestrian Olympic Athlete
  • By Kelsey McMahan
  • April 2016

The Summer Olympic Games in Rio are coming up, which means viewers around the globe are tuning in to  the biggest sports competition on Earth.  As equestrians, we are particularly biased towards the eventing, dressage, and show jumping.  As a little girl, I watched the beautiful horses and riders glide over jumps, perform incredible tasks, and leap over ponds of water.  I don’t know about you, but I wanted to join those prestigious riders.  Being on the United States Equestrian Olympic team is the one of the biggest honors an equestrian can receive.  So how do you become a competitor?  I researched this question and found that, unsurprisingly, it is extremely difficult.


Most of us have loved horses since we were young: some of us riding before we could walk and some of us begging our parents for just one lesson - both leading to an endless love affair with horses.  Just like us, the equestrian Olympians have loved horses for most of their lives.  So how do you become an Olympic hopeful?  Starting young.  Being involved with your local 4-H is a good place to start.  As you grow older, joining a show barn and starting to show in small schooling shows or open show circuits in order to start gaining experience is key.  A dedicated, talented, and supportive trainer could make the difference between you getting a chance to be an option for the Olympic team or not.  If your high school or college offers an equestrian team, join it!  These opportunities will give you more exposure, thus more of a chance of being picked up by a recruiter.


After having a sufficiently successful show career, riders move on to the Young Riders Programs, offered throughout North America and are open to all youth riders from ages 14 to 21.  The Federation Equestre Internationale, or FEI, is the governing body for the Olympic Equestrian team.  Young Riders offers different levels of competition in all FEI recognized sports and is an introduction to what riding under FEI will look like.  The riders learn how to abide to their rules, how to dress, and the expectations of riding in international competitions.  The best of the best qualify to compete in The North American Junior and Young Riders Championships and are invited to compete by their equestrian federation including the USA Equestrian Zone for show jumping, the USDF Region for dressage, and the USEA Area for eventing.  Some top competitions are the Pan-Am and Commonwealth Games and other Grand-Prix and high level events in Europe and other parts of the world.  Young Riders is an essential and critical point to becoming a part of the United States Equestrian Team.  From here, you will have to prove your worth by placing consistently and high in the most difficult competitions such as Rolex and Badminton. 


After proving yourself, the best riders are chosen to be on the national team.  First, they create a long list and then depending on points and other factors, a short list is created.  From this pool of riders, the elite are chosen to compete at the World Championships and the Olympics.


So how can you achieve this with your Arabian horse?  The possibilities of a purebred Arabian going to the Olympics is slim, but the chance of an Anglo-Arabian or Half-Arabian competing is quite possible.  Due to them being mixed with warmbloods, their chances of going to the Olympics are greater.  The breeds that usually attend the show jumping portion are the Belgian Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood, Hanovarian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, Selle Francais, Swedish Warmblood, and Westphalian.  Popular eventing horses are the Anglo-Arabian, Belgian Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood, Hanovarian, Holsteiner, Irish Sport Horse, Selle Francais, Swiss Warmblood, and Thoroughbred.  In the dressage arena, you may find the Andalusian, Danish Warmblood, Hanovarian, Lusitano, Oldenburg, and Westphalian.  Anglo-Arabians and Half-Arabians are used for their endurance in the eventing division over the long courses.


If you work hard enough and climb the ranks of all the riders in the country, the Olympics could be in your future.

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About the Author
Kelsey McMahan is a current youth member in Region 7

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


Famous Arabian Horses
  • By Kailey Wessel
  • March 2016

Arabian horses have been getting plenty of attention in the news and social media lately! The first was Lady Gaga, if you can believe it! Like all of us, even this extravagant celebrity was wishing for a “pony” for Christmas, and her wish finally came true when she received a beautiful Arabian mare from her record label! She has since posted a multitude of pictures on her social media pages, adoring her Arabian!


AHYA_Blog2016-03.4_pic2 BorderShortly after Lady Gaga’s passion for Arabians was revealed, another Arabian horse took the spotlight on national news and television. The most respected horse in all of America is a part of our wonderful breed, you know who I’m talking about; Thunder, from the Denver Broncos! Thunder made his appearances to steal the hearts of people all over the country on Good Morning America as well as leading the Denver Bronco’s out onto the field at the Superbowl! He made an appearance at my barn, Reno-Tahoe Equestrian Centre on the way to Levi Stadium, and was greeted by over 40 people, bouncing in their boots at the chance to meet our Arabian celebrity!


AHYA_Blog2016-03.4_pic3 BorderAnother well-known celebrity involved in the Arabian horse community is… I’ll give you a hint: tall, brown hair, and famous for the movie Dirty Dancing… That’s right, Patrick Swayze! Surprisingly, Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi, were both horse enthusiasts growing up; and, shortly after they married, they bought their first Arabian horse. And get this, in his first year of showing the western pleasure horse, he received a Regional Top 5 and a National Top 10! Not only did Swayze own multiple Arabian show horses but he also owned a few non-Arabian trail horses to enjoy when he was not acting or showing. Sadly this Arabian enthusiast’s life was cut short when he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009, but his last days were spent surrounded by his loving, beautiful horses.


You may not be a renowned singer or actor, and you may never get to ride at the Superbowl, but always remember this: to your horse, you will always be the most exciting, caring, and famous person they’ll ever meet.  Now, do me a favor, and go give your Arabian horse a hug!


Until next time,

About the Author
Kailey Wessel is the current Region 3 Youth Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!



What Happened at the NW EquestFest?
  • By Danika Overstreet
  • January 2016

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A few weeks ago I was blessed to attend the first annual NW EquestFest hosted by Region 5 at the Bellevue Courtyard Marriott. This day was full of forums and activities for the equine enthusiast, and catered to a wide range of disciplines and breeds. I spent most of my day at the AHA booth we had set up with the intention of informing others about our beautiful breed. It was great to see old faces and have people come up and tell us about their Arabian horse. It was even nicer though to see the wonder and interest on other equestrians who have never had experience with Arabian horses. Throughout the day I talked to many inspirational equestrians and connected with people from all different breeds and communities.


AHYA_Blog2016-01.2_pic2 BorderI was lucky enough to attend the Equitation forum and Sport Horse Trends forum. The Equitation form was so helpful. It was a nice jogging of the memory as we close in on the show season, and a great way to learn about other disciplines. I learned a lot about Showmanship, and it definitely peaked my interest. The English training tips were very informative and I felt that they were applicable to all disciplines. For example, I never really thought about working from your foot up. One, you learn how to hold and perfect your feet, you can move up to calf position, and then hips, and so forth. Eventually you will be a flawless equitation rider! The Equitation forum overall showed the importance of proper position when riding, as well as what each discipline is expecting of you.


I later attended the Sport Horse Trends forum. This forum started off with Dressage Fashion trends. It was so cool to see all the different styles as of right now, and she explained some of the trends that have started to filter over from Europe. I learned that rust and navy colors are in, and bedazzled brow-bands are becoming more and more common. Having completely matching tack and apparel sets are a must, and who needs classic black shadbellys when you can have grey or brown ones? Mostly this presentation made me want to go on a huge shopping spree at my nearest tack store or whip out my Dover catalog.

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If a trends forum wasn’t enough, there was a glorious fashion show hosted by Joyce Thomas and members of her barn. The fashion show covered everything from casual practice wear, to coats one would be terrified to ride in and dirty it up. Apparel from all disciplines were covered, and there were a wide range of styles to pick from.


After the convention people who got a ticket for the banquet came in and were treated to a very delicious dinner. We had phenomenal guest speakers such as Cynthia Richardson, Stan Morey, Ron Copple, Kari Amundson, and of course our lovely director Michelle Pease-Paulsen. There was a wonderful dessert dash in which the proceeds went to help the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund, our table won and tried a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake. The night was then followed up with numerous and well deserved awards centered on the Region 5 Highpoint Program. I was thrilled to be awarded Champion for Junior Sport Horse Under Saddle, Res. Champ for Junior Dressage, and 4th for Open 14-18. A huge congratulations to the other recipients and my Co-Director McKenzie who received the Youth Volunteer of the Year award.


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Overall the EquestFest was an absolute blast. There was a silent auction which benefited the AHDF, Region 5 Youth, and Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. The turnout was absolutely amazing, and the forums ran smoothly. I absolutely adored this convention and hats off to our director for planning and running such a fantastic event. If you live in the Region 5 area, we hope to see you there next year!


About the Author
Danika Overstreet is the current Region 5 Youth Co-Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


How to Afford College
  • By Emily Barker
  • January 2015

It’s never too early to start thinking about college. Thinking about college comes with many questions, however the biggest question that crosses everyone’s mind is how am I going to pay for college?


I am now just starting my second semester as a freshman at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. I had known since I was a sophomore in high school that William Woods was my dream college, however being a private university and the fact that I am a resident of California and not a resident of the state of Missouri means that I would have the extra cost of paying out of state tuition.


I started doing research about scholarships and found several scholarship opportunities through the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) and the Arabian Horse Foundation! The Arabian Horse Foundation has a general scholarship application form that is due April 1st every year.  These organizations have both regional and national scholarships to offer to their youth. I found that I could obtain a scholarship through my region and even some of my region’s clubs. I also discovered that I could win scholarships through AHA’s regional and national level judging competitions. I joined my region’s youth judging team and competed at the national and regional level and earned over $4,000 in scholarships!


AHYA_Blog2016-01_pic2 Border AHA also offers a very prestigious scholarship called Youth of the Year. Youth of the Year recognizes a very special individual who has gone above and beyond to help the Arabian Horse Association.  


The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) also offers several different scholarships. USEF has their own version of the Youth of the Year award called the USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year. USEF also offers a Sportsmanship scholarship and a very unique scholarship for those individuals planning to pursue an equestrian degree in college.


Scholarships can also be obtained by going to many different websites and researching what scholarships best suit your needs. Colleges often offer their own unique scholarships that you may be applicable for. William Woods offers a $5,000.00 a year scholarship program called LEAD. Over the course of four years it is a $20,000.00 savings off my tuition bill. If you want more info on that please go to their website for more info or send me an email.


First start by asking your region and region’s clubs to see if they offer scholarships and if you meet the requirements, however if you are stuck and are unsure of where to start looking for scholarships whether it’s through AHA, USEF, scholarship websites, or through your desired college, please feel free to contact me and I will assist you to the best of my abilities. I will be more than willing to help you find scholarships that will best fit your needs!


About the Author
Emily Barker is the current AHYA Vice President

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


AHYA 2015 March Board Meeting
  • By Emily Barker
  • March 2015

Hello AHYA members and fellow Arabian horse competitors! 


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On Saturday morning, we all woke up very early and were ready to undergo our board of directors meeting. We had the privilege to listen to a Parliamentarian who helped us better understand Robert’s Rules of Order. After our guest speaker finished, we discussed many great ideas and plans for Youth Nationals 2015. The theme for Youth Nationals this year is, “Horsin’ Around the World”! Each regional youth director was in charge of choosing a country in which their region will represent at Youth Nationals for the stall-decorating contest and during the Parade of Regions. This year, the Parade of Regions will take place down Main Street Sunday the 19th. The Ice Cream Social will be held directly after the Parade of Regions on Sunday and we plan to have piñatas this year. The board members all discussed great ideas for our Annual Youth Convention. Youth Convention was moved to Friday afternoon and the Novice Judging Clinic to the morning and will AHYA_Blog2015-03_pic1 Borderbe live streamed. Everyone will now have the opportunity to take part at Convention whether they will be at Youth Nationals or not. We will be continuing Barn Night Out, Flying Pigs, and Flamingo Flocking! We have several fun activities planned for our delegates and guests! Convention delegate eligibility will be due June 1, 2015. We have also decided on our limited edition item. Last year our limited edition item was the power pods which sold like crazy, this year our limited edition item will be AHYA dog collars! 


The AHYA Board of Directors has a lot in store for the upcoming 2015 year. We are very excited and eager to show everyone what we have planned. Talk to you soon and good luck in the upcoming show year!


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About the Author
Emily Barker is the current Region 1 Youth Director

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


Welcome to 2015
  • By Katherine Mathews
  • January 2015

Hello AHYA members and fellow Arabian horse competitors!

AHYA_Blog2015-01_pic1 BorderAs 2015 begins, I am getting more and more excited to begin my first year in 14 and Under. My barn is fired up and they are preparing for this exciting new year. I am sure most of you are too! I cannot wait to be back in the show ring! My first show of 2015 is big Scottsdale, which will be my second 14 and Under show. Are any of you going to Scottsdale? 


With my trusty and loving steeds, Camelot (right photo) and Glory (below), I hope to have a successful and fun year, and maybe win a championship or two! Last year, at Youth, when I was still in 10 and Under, I picked up 5 Top Tens, and I learned to honor my horses for the effort they put into their presentations and be grateful for what they do for me each year. This year I hope to at least be that successful in 14 and Under! The upcoming 2015 show season is getting me fired up and ready to compete, and I hope to have a lot of fun along with making it fun for my horse too! 

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For every show, I like to think positive and believe in my horse and myself and what we are capable of achieving.  I focus on pushing through the boundaries that we face as a team, and reach for something that is challenging, like a championship.  Nothing is impossible, and that is the best mindset for me when I’m showing.  It’s all in the title: Horse Show.  Show them, competitors! You are worthy of the prize, so reach for it, no matter what anybody says!  Hope can get you farther than you think.  For me, all that matters is having a good time, and every year, that’s exactly what I do!  If I have a bad ride, I can try again tomorrow.  The gift of having a big, fuzzy, four-legged partner is that he will never leave your side, and knowing that, I feel encouraged and faithful in not just myself, but also in my horse, and that is one of the best feelings in the world.


This weekend is the AHANM awards banquet, and I am anxious to see if maybe I got an award or two.  You never know!  No matter what, I’ll be cheering on my friends who do win awards!

This year, I am going to focus on having a great show season with my horses and trust that I can win a ribbon or two. I wish everyone luck this year and I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’ll see you in the show ring! 


About the Author
Katherine Mathews is the current Region 8 Treasurer

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


Judging at the National Judging Contest
  • By Molly Schwister
  • October 2014

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.

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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.


AHYA_Blog2014-10_pic3 BorderWhy 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.

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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


Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!


We Don't Just "Sit There"
  • By Kelsey McMahan
  • September 2014

"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.
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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

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contactyouth@arabianhorses.org today!


My 2nd Trip To Tevis...
  • By Camey Kimbler
  • August 2014

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. 
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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.

AHYA_Blog2014-08_pic2 BorderPaul'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

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contact youth@arabianhorses.org today!

One's Journey to Youth Nationals
  • By Desirae Woodford
  • August 2014

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!

AHYA_Blog2014-08_pic3 BorderThis 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

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contactyouth@arabianhorses.org today!

Should You Ride in College? YES!
  • By Rachel Feringa
  • June 2013

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.

AHYA_Blog2013-06_pic1 BorderThen, 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.

AHYA_Blog2013-06_pic2 BorderOne 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.

CMU's team website: http://www.freewebs.com/cmuet/

About the Author
Rachel Feringa is a current Central Michigan University student who found us through the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association's Facebook page.

Have a story you want to share on the blog? We’d love to hear from you; contactyouth@arabianhorses.org today!

After Graduation: Riding in College
  • By Laura Killian
  • April 2013

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.

AHYA_Blog2013-04_pic1 BorderThe 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.

AHYA_Blog2013-04_pic2 BorderWhen 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.

AHYA_Blog2013-04_pic3 BorderI 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!

If you'd like to support our program, please consider donating to Penn State Dressage.

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
  • March 2013

AHYA_Blog2013-03_pic1 BorderHi, 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."

AHYA_Blog2013-03_pic2 BorderThe 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.

AHYA_Blog2013-03_pic3 BorderSomething 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!

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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!

2013 Kickoff - Get Pumped!
  • By Tori Oto
  • January 2013

AHYA_Blog2013-01_pic1 BorderHello! My name is Tori Oto, and I am this year's Vice President and Youth of the Year. First off, Happy New Year! A new year means a new show season, and the first stop is Scottsdale. It'll be here in two short weeks so I hope everyone is ready. We've had a few months of down time but now we all have to get back to work and start to refocus our attention to showing!

A few months ago, the AHYA Board had a very successful meeting in Denver during the Arabian Horse Association Convention, so there are some things you should know for the 2013 season. For those of you who weren't at Youth Nationals last year and haven't already heard, the age limit for youth competitors has been raised from 17 to 18! That means we all get another year of showing as youth. Two years ago, a resolution was passed to allow judges in Saddle Seat classes at the National level to call for a horse-rider switch if desired. This means that if the judge feels the class is too close to call, he or she can make competitors switch horses in the ring. This year, another resolution was passed to apply this rule to Hunter Equitation Classes 14-18.

You might have also heard a rumor that at next Youth Nationals all Hunter Jumpers were going to be required to wear helmets around the barn and during warm-up. While this was in fact a resolution at the 2012 AHA Convention, it did not pass! This is because there is no way to make a distinction between jumpers and other riders, so this rule would be unenforceable.

AHYA_Blog2013-01_pic2 BorderNow, besides all the serious business of rule changes and Convention, I want to talk about the every day opportunities that you, as a youth member, have the ability to take advantage of. Everything starts at the local and regional level, so we need you to help us out! Here are some easy ways to get involved: join the AHYA Facebook Page, compete in the Creative Contest, apply for regional scholarships, organize a Regional Youth Team Tournament team, help your regional directors, register as a delegate for AHYA Convention, or become a regional director yourself! All you need to do to become a regional director is submit an application to your region's Youth Coordinator. More information can be found on your region's website. Another way to get involved with the AHYA Board is to join a Committee. Committees include Fundraising, Equitation, Personal Relations, Youth National Activities, Sport Horse, Working Western, etc. The only requirement is that you're an AHYA member; there is no application! So just ask your regional director or any board member to sign you up to join a committee!

It might seem intimidating to join local equestrian clubs or to apply to be a board member, but you'll find it's actually really simple! I know the girls on the board are some of the nicest people I've ever met, and we're eager for new members!

In the mean time, make sure to join the AHYA Facebook page! We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to post pictures of you and your horses or to write posts about anything horse related! Lastly, if you have an interesting story or anecdote you'd like to share on this blog, feel free to email me. My information can be found on the "Who's Who" Section of the AHYA website. In fact, feel free to email me about anything I've mentioned, especially if you have questions about how to get involved.

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Until next time!

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!

Horse Keeping Tips
  • By Angela Mannick
  • Spring 2012

Groom Carefully as Tick Season Fires Up

Temperatures are warming, pastures are greening, and the flying, creeping, and crawling pests are making their yearly appearance. One pest that horse owners need to be particularly mindful about is the tick. Ticks are masters of "hide and seek."


We all care a lot about our Arabian horses and we make sure to vaccinate and worm them regularly. Checking for ticks should be a common practice for every horse owner, especially once warmer weather moves in and if you live or keep your horse near wooded and grassy areas.


 AHA - 120 BorderWhat's up with ticks?

Ticks are known to be carriers of bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease affects animals and people differently. The most common symptoms that indicate your horse might be infected with Lyme disease are lameness and behavioral changes. The lameness is usually found in larger joints (not the foot) and can shift from one leg to another. You might also detect signs of stiffness in your horse's limbs. Behavioral changes can be more difficult to detect. They might show an unwillingness to work and some owners have even noticed an increase in irritability in their horses and a change in attitude. Don't rely too heavily on seeing your horse develop a temperature to know they are infected. Some horses never spike a temperature with Lyme disease. With treatment, the symptoms usually return to normal relatively quickly.


The adult tick, which is present in the fall and early spring, is the stage most likely to feed on horses. The adult tick is usually big enough to be found while simply grooming your horse. Ticks are sneaky, but usually hide around the head, throatlatch area, belly, and under the tail, but be sure to also look inside your horse's ears, forelock and mane. Develop your own system for checking for ticks while you do your daily grooming and if you find a raised bumpy area, make sure to take a closer look.


Eeek! I found a tick! Now what?

The best way to remove a tick is by grabbing it with a pair of tweezers gently at its mouthparts, where it is attached to your horse. Carefully and slowly pull gently backwards to remove the tick. Be sure to avoid rupturing the tick as you remove it. Once the tick is removed you can either place it in a closed container if your parents want to get it tested or you should dispose of them in the toilet. Either way, prompt removal is your best bet at minimizing the risks for Lyme disease in your horses.


What can we do?

Although there is no vaccine currently for tick prevention, there are a few repellant products out there to help minimize them. Make sure to apply any repellant you find for tick prevention in the areas most common where they like to hide. Don't let the repellants lure you into a false sense of security; make sure to continue to keep a look out for the really sneaky ones! The secret is that ticks need to attach and feed for 12-24 hours before they start transmitting the bacteria into your horse. Catching them early is key!


Consult your veterinarian for more advice on disease control or if you suspect your horse is showing symptoms of Lyme disease.


Have some HorseKeeping tips to share? Send tips to: youth@arabianhorses.org


Stranger Safety on the Trail
  • By Angela Mannick
  • Spring 2012

Stranger Safety on the Trail

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner! You and your horse have either been cooped up all winter indoors or unable to ride at all due to the six foot snow drift that never seems to want to melt! But now the birds are chirping, the grass is turning green and flowers are blooming everywhere! You and your horse are itching to get out and stretch your legs!


There is nothing like going to the barn on a warm, sunny spring day and saddling up for a trail ride just to celebrate the fact that spring is here again! This year while you are out on the trails and you're soaking up the sun and aroma of fresh spring flowers, make sure you have also prepared yourself for all the necessary trail safety. We're not just talking about watching for poisonous snakes and unsure footing. Believe it or not, women and youth on horse back can be easy targets for mugging and kidnapping. Even on your big ol' horse!

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Here are a few safety measures to consider especially if you are riding alone on a trail.


Always let a parent, friend, trainer or neighbor know where you are going, how long you plan to be out, and who is going with you or if you will be by yourself.


When strangers approach, listen to the hair on the back of your neck! Turn and leave. You are faster on your horse than on the ground.

YOUR HORSE WILL NOT RUN THEM OVER! We spend a lot of time training our horses to respect our personal space. Never assume your horse will take charge and knock over a stranger to save the day. It is most likely that your horse will actually hesitate and stop for people on the trail.


Turning and running is always a better plan than charging your horse past a threatening person. Trying to charge past someone actually makes you an easier target for them to grab the bridal as you try to go by and gain control over you.


If someone approaches you and grabs your leg, don't make your leg stiff to fight them off or try to kick them away; doing so actually makes you lose your balance. Once you lose your balance, you are an easy target to pull from the saddle. Your best defense is to stay centered in the saddle, keep your leg relaxed at your horse's side and turn your horse away from the stranger using your horse's hind quarters to knock the stranger away. Continue to pivot quickly until the stranger is knocked away and then get out of there fast!


If you are at your trailer or on foot and someone approaches you, use your horse's hind end as a shield. Keep your horse's hind end pointed at the stranger and always keep your horse between you and the stranger. If they are approaching you in a threatening manner, start backing your horse into the person. No one likes that end of a horse especially if they are unfamiliar with horses. Your horse will sense the stress level in your body and voice. Sooner or later if you continue to back your horse into them in a high stressed way, your horse will kick at them feeling threatened. Whatever you do, don't stop using your horse as a shield until the person retreats and leaves. Even if they back away, don't try to mount your horse. This will only offer a window of opportunity for you to let your guard down.


It's always a good idea to keep a cell phone in a saddlebag or pocket on silent while riding. Help can be just a phone call away!


Take into consideration these tips on your next outing on horseback. Share them with your friends. They just might save the day!


Have some HorseKeeping tips to share? Send tips to: youth@arabianhorses.org

  • By Makena Echenique
  • January 2017

Ever since I was roughly 3 years old, I’ve been around horses. I’ve been in this lifelong team with horses for a long time, starting with my first pony named Spanky. Granted, I didn’t quite understand what I was doing on the back of the horse until age 8. I began understanding that riding a horse was a 2-way conversation with a lesson horse named Prince. Prince made it very clear when I was just flat out wrong, but sometimes Prince liked to take me for a ride every now and then. Riding isn’t a sport where you can go solo. Even if you’re the only rider in the ring, you’ve got a teammate with you. That teammate is your horse. The communication you have with your teammate isn’t necessarily verbal, either. A majority of the time, you communicate with your 2,000 pound or plus teammate in complete silence.

 Makena Echenique Border

With my chestnut mare, Mikhailey, teamwork has been a very prominent subject in our relationship. Mikhailey is a very kind and sweet mare, but is not afraid to put me in my place or even test me a little, just for precautionary measures. In these times of difficulty, it is a give and take procedure. It may take a few lessons for me to understand what she’s telling me or for her to realize what I’m telling her. I cannot expect to be the only person participating in this silent conversation because with that mentality, I cannot change. If I dictate the conversation, my team will face consequences of a never-ending argument. I need to take the words and advice from my trainer and horse if I want to improve with my team. But, on the other hand, Mikhailey cannot dictate the conversation either because that will lead to consequences as well. In order for this dispute to be solved, all sides of the story need to be taken into account and negotiating must be done. It is important to find if it’s simply operator error and I need the advice of my trainer to fix my mistakes, or if my horse is pulling my leg.  Recently, we’ve had many conversations without saying a word… or neighing in Mikhailey’s case. We’ve been learning some new procedures and tricks, I like to call them, to improve our performance. As I ride my mare, listening to our coach/trainer’s instruction, I can almost hear Mikhailey talking to me through her body language. Most of the time she’s asking, ‘Makena, what are you doing?’ But with the guidance of our fabulous trainer, we finally understand each other for the time being. Without this silent conversation and teamwork, we wouldn’t be where we are now.


Mikhailey and I have been through our fair share of bad classes, and good classes. We’ve had our share of arguments, days where our ride was as perfect as it gets, and lessons where it wasn’t the best or the worst. And in our future, there are bound to be more of these metaphorical ‘valleys and mountains’ or ups and downs that we’ll come upon. It is teamwork that will get us across those valleys and up those mountains whenever they arise. It is teamwork that creates the unbreakable bond between rider and horse.

About the Author
Makena Echenique is the 2016-2017 Region 3 Youth Secretary

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