Two weeks ago 35 world champions were named. There were tears of joy, tears of disappointment, trainers & parents cheering their hearts out from the stands, and hugs in the middle of the arena before they announced the world champion. The AQHYA World Show can be a defining moment for many kids in the horse world and this past year was no exception.
The Built Ford Tough American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show is the pinnacle event for American Quarter Horse exhibitors, ages 18 and under, around the world, who must qualify for the event by earning a predetermined number of points to compete in each of the classes representing halter, english and western disciplines.
The AQHYA world show is fueled by the blood, sweat, and tears of youth from around the world, hard working trainers, and the parents that support this life changing, fast paced lifestyle that is showing American Quarter Horses.
Once the process of earning enough points to qualify for the show is done; that is when the real preparation begins. For the youth who show horses it’s all about being the last one standing in the coveted Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (for us has-beens it could be Fort Worth or Tulsa 😉
Parents and their kids spend all year traveling across the country to earn enough points to qualify for the world show. Then spend the summer days traveling to horse shows and their trainer’s houses for “riding boot camps.” All of the efforts these kids make from September to the Next August when the next world show is held, shape the results.
While most sports are based on your personal condition and did you work hard enough, did you train your body enough. When it comes to showing horses not only do you have to work on your riding, you have to prepare a thousand plus pound animal to be in sync with you. For riders to be successful the bond between horse and rider has to be one that can’t be broken. Any has-been youth that has had success will tell you that you have to learn your horses moods and know when and how far you can push them. They will also tell you that once a bond between horse and rider is created….the results are amazing.
Another important element of competing at the AQHYA World Show is the team you have around you. Supportive parents & horse trainers that have been with you every step of the way; pushing both you and your horse to be the best you can be.
At the horse shows there is events all daylong; so the arena’s that the competitors show in are unavailable for practice. This means middle of the night ridding sessions.
Long days and short nights of sleep…that is the name of the game at the AQHYA world show. This is not a sport for lazy workers and there is also more to it than winning world championships.
For the girls, this sport has the potential to earn them a division one athletic scholarship. Consider the amount of money these families put into the sport to compete. The potential to have a college scholarship is an amazing opportunity.
The harsh reality however for the Youth who have spent most of their adolescent career competing around the world is that once the dust settles at your last youth world, you would give just about anything to go back and spend those long hours at the barn.
So we have the brutally honest confessions of the has-beens….
- We all yelled at our parents at the stalls…….truth is they were forking out the dough just so we MIGHT have the chance to make the finals.
- As has-beens we don’t know anyone at the horse shows since we went off to college…..and the new “Youth” have NO IDEA who we are.
- Don’t take for granted those 3am rides drilling the same pattern over and over again…we would gladly swap places with you.
- All of your friends back home think we are just at another “race.” And at this point we have all given up trying to explain we DON’T actually race our horses!
- Best way to get over a bad ride…..a cinnamon roll from the sweet shop.
- Every has-been has a story from when we got “screwed by the judges” and didn’t get in the finals. It’s a broken record but we have all been there.
- Use the WHOLE ARENA for your victory lap. Or we will be judging heavily from the stands. Also if you could shed a few tears that would be good to 😉
- Competing at the youth world was our glory days.
So whether this is your first youth world or you are going back to visit four years later…these are memories and friends you will have forever and once it’s over you can’t go back. So make it count and ENJOY every minute.