Competing at the Cap Gun Circuit in Madison, Wisconsin this weekend brought back memories of my youth career and being a member of the Wisconsin Quarter Horse Youth Association. I think that being a member of an organization such as the WQHYA taught me things I continue to use today. Showing horse shows can be so much more that just winning or losing. It can teach you comradery and teamwork, responsibility and leadership.
Although I am no longer a youth exhibitor, there are a few youth girls that are clients of my mom so I am involved in, or at least aware of what they are doing. At the show this weekend there was an activity where the youths were given Nutrena feed bags and instructed to create an outfit for a fashion show. Then people at the show gave money to whomever they though had the best look. Nutrena would then match what the youth raised, up to $1000.00. This is just as example of the fun and create ways the youth organization raises money for the world and congress teams. Being involved in activities like this helps to foster relationships with other youth that show in your state. Being a part of the team can also allow you to meet other youth across the country by competing at the world show or attending conventions like the AQHA Youth Excellence Seminar.
Horse showing in itself was a really important part of me maturing as quickly as I did. I was never the person that had everything done for me. I was taught at a young age how to take care of my horses myself, and the importance of helping others as well. I was responsible for packing my own clothing and tack and getting ready for my classes in the morning. My mom even taught me to drive the truck and trailer at an earlier age and I was practicing on the streets with my temps when I was 15! I appreciate growing up in this way as I am now known as a hard worker and someone who can be trusted with almost any task. All these aspects of responsibility I learned when I was younger have manifested into crucial lessons I do not know if I could have learned any other way.
Another one of my favorite things about being a part of the horse show scene when I was younger was holding elected positions in the WQHYA as well as in my 4-h club. As an officer I took on a leadership positions and worked with adults as well as other youth members. Taking on roles like this really has value and more then just a note on a college application (although that is not a bad thing!). Knowledge I acquired during this time period allowed me to feel more qualified in my positions as treasurer, captain and eventually president of my collegiate equestrian team. Having previous experience also made me more electable from my peer’s perspective. Even if you do not like to take on leadership roles, there are way to get involved like helping to plan fundraisers which help to showcase your eagerness to learn and turn plans into action without being a conventional leader. It is valuable for everyone to learn some leadership skills so you have that ability if it is ever needed.
Showing horses takes time and dedication. It is can give you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows but as a youth I regret nothing about how it all turned out. I couldn’t be more thankful of the experience and knowledge I was able to gain as a youth and encourage all of you who might be reading this to get involved!