By Laci Jones and Oaklie Howard
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is dedicated to helping youth further their horsemanship skills through the Young Horse Development Program. The program helps youth become more engaged in the horse industry at a fundamental level that’s both fun and education. While it is designed to expand horsemanship knowledge and abilities, youth participants also have the chance to earn scholarships and prizes.
“Conceptualized as a way to provide youth with quality weanlings from AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders, the program continues to be greatly supported by weanling donations,” said Jacy Hammer, AQHA manager of Youth Development & AQHYA.
Jim Hunt, chairman of the AQHA Ranching Committee, and his wife Joni recognized the challenges young people have purchasing a quality ranch-bred horse and young families have of entering a relatively expensive industry. This conversation, which took place in 2010, led to the establishment of the AQHA Young Horse Development program in 2011.
In an effort to reach out to those who had an interest in the horse industry, the Hunts started giving at least six quality weanlings a year to teenagers who showed an interest in horses. The young adults eventually started showing the horses in AQHA and other horse competitions.
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