I was a horse crazed kid back in the 1960s. Most every day in the summertime I rode my bike to the local stables that featured trail rides for tourists (the horses went out to pasture in the winter) and hung out there all day long. When I was 10 years old my dad bought the horse that I typically rode on the dude string, a palomino gelding named Pepe. I never learned to pick up a lead and never saw or heard of a lunge line, but rode that horse in the mountains, raced in the meadows, and swam with him in the creek till I went away to college. Sometimes, when the Gymkhana came to town, we ran around barrels and once I carried a flag in a rodeo parade in our local ice arena, but I had no idea what a horse show was or any knowledge of the various skills I could develop and strive to perfect in partnership with a horse. Such a great childhood but so many things about horses and horsemanship I never learned!
These days there are multiple ways for horse crazed kids to get into the horse world, even if their families don’t have horse experience. 4-H, which most everyone in this neck of the woods knows about, offers one way. Another way is through the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) for middle and high school youth. IEA is a nonprofit organization founded in 2002 in Ohio. Its members participate as individuals and as team members in equestrian competitions in hunt seat, dressage, western horsemanship, reining, and ranch riding. Some teams ride English and others Western, and there are some kids that cross over and do both. The great thing about IEA is that there’s no need for the kids to own or lease a horse! In fact, when the kids go to IEA horse shows they ride whatever horse they select in a computer-generated random draw. They learn about “their” horse by watching a volunteer ride it at the start of the show, and in their pattern classes they do the rail work first in order to get a feel for the horse. You can imagine how challenging this is but also how effectively it builds horsemanship skills. You can find out more about the national IEA organization at www.rideiea.org.
Several Wyoming Quarter Horse Association (WQHA) members are involved in the IEA program. About 10 years ago then-Colorado based and now Wyoming based trainer Mark Guynn was encouraged by a professional horseman to start an IEA team out west. In 2012 the first Western IEA horseshow west of the Mississippi was held at his and his wife Jan’s place in Berthoud, CO. The Guynns have been involved ever since and now that they’ve resettled their training program near Sheridan, Wyoming they are thinking about starting a Wyoming team. They need a minimum of three riders to get started (contact Mark if you’re interested at email@example.com). There are several features of the IEA program that Mark really likes: In particular, it allows kids and their families to explore and assess their interest in horses without making a big investment up front. Although some of Mark’s IEA riders have had their own horses, about half have not. For kids who stick with IEA, Mark says it turns out to be a great platform for being invited to join a collegiate horse show team. At least three of Mark’s IEA riders have gone on to top colleges, including University of Georgia, Baylor University in Texas, and University of California at Davis, having been recruited by these schools’ equestrian teams.
About five years ago Mark and Jan convinced Colorado trainers and WQHA members Nancy Nemmers (Nemmers Show Horses) and Jimmy Daurio (Daurio Performance Horses) to join them as IEA coaches. Nancy and Jimmy both talk about how rewarding it is to watch the IEA youth rise to the challenges offered by the program, including taking on the responsibility of catching, grooming, saddling, and caring for the horses they ride in practices; and acquiring sportsmanship and leadership skills, some older kids becoming mentors for younger kids, all while becoming top notch riders. They see IEA as akin to other school sports. Kids must have good grades to participate and the program provides a lot of structure to enable success. Participants must have a plan to guide their progress, they must attend four lessons per month, and must make up any missed lessons. They emphasize that IEA really stresses and values sportsmanship; participants vote for the best sportsman, sportsmanship patches are awarded, and sportsmanship awards can lead to scholarships. Nancy talks about the benefits of being an IEA coach for herself as a professional, especially how rewarding it’s been to gain experience coaching a team as well as working with individual riders. For Jimmy, seeing horse crazed kids without their own horses get a chance to connect with horses, ride, and develop horsemanship skills is worth all the significant time and travel commitments. Nancy and Jimmy both continue to coach IEA in Colorado and welcome you to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Link to full story at The Wrangler Horse and Rodeo News: HERE
Written by: Nicole Ballenger
The Wyoming Quarter Horse Association (WQHA) has added a show to its schedule and given approval to RMQHA’s upcoming Rocktoberfest show, to be held at The Ranch in Loveland, September 30th – October 3rd. Since the WQHA annual convention will be held October 30th at Little American in Cheyenne, this show is too late to be included in the 2021 year-end awards but will count toward the 2022 year. Be sure to renew your 2022 WQHA membership prior to the show in order for these points to count. You can find the membership renewal form at https://wqha.com.
WQHA is also very pleased to report its July 2021 show in Douglas, WY, the Cowboy Summer Classic, was again a huge success. There were a whopping 792 open entries, 1650 amateur entries, and 459 youth entries. L1 (novice amateur and green horse) classes were particularly popular, suggesting the show is becoming a favorite venue for novice exhibitors to hone their skills in the show pen and for open exhibitors from Wyoming and neighboring states to gain experience for their young and green horses. The largest classes were L1 Amateur Showmanship, L1 Amateur Western Horsemanship, L1 (horse) Trail, L1 Amateur Trail, L1 Amateur Western Pleasure, and L1 (horse) Western Pleasure. Senior Trail and Senior Ranch Riding also drew an impressive number of exhibitors. All Breed classes and Walk-Trot classes for both All Breed and AQHA exhibitors boosted attendance and brought in some who were new to WQHA shows.
The show had six nationally known AQHA judges over the course of five days: Bonnie Jo Clay, Mike Carter, Charlene Carter, Mike Edwards, Mike Jung, and Robbin Jung. High point winners were: Rachel Spint and One Hot Cruiser (rookie youth), Madeline Stucky and Be Invited (L1 youth), Emily Johnson and Gota Lota Style (youth), Lindsey Brackle and Only Time and Money (L1 amateur and rookie amateur), Andrea Shultz and I Wanna Kissa Cowboy (walk-trot amateur), Zoey Luhman and VS On Angel Wings (walk-trot youth), Molly Adair and Nicadual Dunit (amateur), Debbie Unrein and Lazy But Good (select amateur and senior horse), and Laurie Marcotte and VS Sassy Seniorita (L1 horse and junior horse).
Congratulations to our reserve high point winners, as well, and to our many circuit and individual class winners, and to everyone who came and showed! All results, as well as year-end high point awards, which include points earned by WQHA members at the Center of Nation QH show held in Rapid City in June, are posted on the website at https://wqha.com.
The Cowboy Summer Classic show offered a challenge for even the most experienced exhibitors and horses, but also was a lot of fun and even remunerative for some lucky participants. During the first day of trail, the mail box was stuffed with envelopes containing money; a dollar in most envelopes but $20 in a few for a few lucky riders. And a randomly selected exhibitor in 31 of the classes won a $25 cash award contributed by one of 11 class sponsors.
In additional to the class sponsors, WQHA wants to thank and acknowledge the numerous show sponsors, including the Converse County Tourism Board, Badlands Cowboy Tack, Picture Perfect Show and Ranch Pads, Scott Performance Horses, Double Heart Performance Therapy, Rocky Mountain Show Supply, Cinch Jeans, and Kelly Simonson, as well as Bomgaars and Douglas Grocery for donating water and Geoff Morris and Safeway for donating the all-important donuts every morning.
Written by: Nicole Ballenger
The Wyoming Quarter Horse Association (WQHA) has an active youth division (WQHYA) led by Jill Stucky (Jill.firstname.lastname@example.org). I asked Kristen McPherson and Madeline Stucky --two top WQHA youth exhibitors-- to share their experiences in the show pen with their horses, and to talk about how they balance showing with the other parts of their busy lives. As their answers make clear, showing requires tremendous discipline and commitment, and much support from parents too! Maddy lives in Laramie and is a freshman at Laramie High School. Kristen lives in Lander and is a senior at Lander Valley High School. She’s headed to college at Baylor University in the fall, where she will ride with the equestrian team.
Maddy and Kristen, tell me a little about your Quarter Horses.
Maddy: My horse's name is Hudson (Be Invited). He is a 2015, 16’3 all-around horse by Good I Will Be, and out of Invitedfourcocktails . He is exceptional in all aspects but shines in showmanship and horsemanship. Even though he is a 6-year-old he performs like a veteran horse. I really love how determined he is to please his rider and how hardworking he is. When we first got him he was green in most of the classes we show in, but with hard work and determination, we became a successful duo.
Kristen: My horse Jag (Overdue to be Invitd) by ‘Invitation Only’ is a 2011 gelding. He is exceptionally smart and quick to learn new things. We began our career together in February of 2020. Our relationship is quickly growing and I love how willing he is to do new things.
Competitive sports all require lots of practice, perseverance, and passion. Showing horses also requires a partnership with a horse. How important is that partnership and how do you develop it to excel in the show pen?
Maddy: A partnership between a rider and a horse is one of the most important ingredients of success. Learning each other's cues and creating a bond between rider and horse can guarantee success. Creating a bond does take time and lots of patience, as required for many other sports. Learning my horse's strengths and weaknesses helped me a lot; for example, when we got Hudson, he would get anxious in the trail. Learning this about him helped me to be able to help him overcome his anxiety and ultimately help our riding get better as a whole.
Kristen: I agree. Partnership is the biggest key to success in showing horses. The main way to build a relationship with your horse is to constantly practice and take the time to understand each other. Creating trust between your horse and yourself does not happen overnight or even in a couple of months. There are always going to be “fights” to see who the boss is. In the end you just have to push through all the hard times to see the progress. I have only known Jag for a little over a year, we are through many of the fights, and the success is finally coming through. I have learned to stay patient and have adapted to Jag while he has done the same for me.
I know from my own experience how much time is involved in preparing for shows. How do you balance showing with school, family and social life, and other activities?
Maddy: Balancing showing, with school, family, social life, and other activities can definitely be a challenge, and I've always had a busy schedule. Currently, Laramie High School is doing a hybrid school schedule where I go to school twice a week and go online the other 3 days. With this schedule we try to get to the barn and ride on Wednesdays and sometime during the weekend. Although being in a different state from my horse and trainer has challenges, we try to get in as many rides a possible. On top of that, I play club volleyball and run track so a lot of the time I go to club volleyball practice after I ride and go to track practices on the days I can.
Kristen: Balancing life while being busy is never easy but my parents have always helped me to make horses a priority in life. I actually decided I would graduate at semester in January 2021, to open more time for riding. Being 5 hours away from my trainer has never been easy, but we plan to drive down once or twice a month so I can practice. I also swim on the Lander Valley High School girls swim team. I do not usually ride during this time because of the practice and meet schedule but I know that my dedication to the team is important. I am fortunate to have my retired paint horse at home to be able to practice on.
What are your favorite classes to show in? Why? Do you have a least favorite class?
Maddy: I personally really enjoy showing in showmanship and horsemanship because of the challenges each class brings. When we first got Hudson he knew nothing in showmanship and with hard work and dedication we have made him into a phenomenal showmanship horse. I also enjoy horsemanship because of the attention to detail needed with every aspect of the class.
I would say the English events aren't particularly my favorite, I wouldn't necessarily say I hate the classes just that I prefer the Western events. I also like the fact that in Western there is no specific style required so anyone can be unique.
Kristen: I love showmanship and trail. I have been very lucky to have the horses I have. They all taught me joys of showing. I learned to love showmanship and trail for the uniqueness of having your own style. These two classes are very similar in making everything flow. The point of these classes is to not just get through the pattern but take every maneuver and create a dance out of it. There are many amazing showmanship and trail horses but when you come across a team that looks like they belong together, it is amazing to watch.
Like Maddy, I am not a huge fan of English classes. I rode hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation since I was young but I never truly enjoyed them. In western classes you can tell the riders apart by their outfits and style, but in English classes everyone looks the same. I just prefer being able to stand out and feel different than everyone else.
What do you think is your biggest accomplishment in partnership with your horse? Do you have a particular goal for 2021?
Maddy: I think Hudson and my biggest accomplishment as a partnership would be placing 8th at the AQHA Youth World Show in 13 and under hunter under saddle 2 years ago. Going into the 2021 show season a goal that I would like to accomplish would be pointing out of a Level 1 class. (Me: so despite not liking English so much, you are very good at it!)
Kristen: I think the biggest accomplishment for Jag and I was how much we have grown. 2020 did not give us many show opportunities and Covid-19 changed our travel plans. With limited riding time and shows we still grew and established a strong base for the years ahead of us. My goal for 2021 is to enjoy my last youth year. Even though I have two youth years remaining, I will be in college and I am not sure if I will have time for showing. I hope to make this year the most memorable one yet.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Would you like to encourage other youth riders to participate in WQHA shows? Could they contact you if interested?
Maddy: As a former vice president of the WQHYA, I would encourage youth riders to keep practicing, and getting better and better. And find a way to get involved in more shows that WQHA puts on or sponsors. Riding is a great way to de-stress and WQHA is a stress-free association with opportunities to meet great people.
If you would like to contact me, my email is email@example.com.
Kristen: Riding has been my way of relaxing. Showing has expanded my love for horses. It has opened the door to many opportunities that I could not have known without the help of these associations. I encourage youth to get involved in the WQHA shows. They are a great way to understand showing and open new doors. I would be open to other youth reaching out and asking questions or even developing new friendships. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2021 WQHYA officers are Ainsley Marshall (president), Kristen McPherson (vice president), Emily Johnson (secretary), and Madeline Stucky (treasurer).
Written by: Nicole Ballinger