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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!