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Contact youth@arabianhorses.org 



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!