When I discovered I was the 2013-2014 AQHA Young Horse Development Program Champion, I was absolutely ecstatic! It was a dream come true for me and my golden palomino filly, Willow. However, getting my story in the AQHA Journal and my photo on the cover was even more thrilling.
The AQHA Young Horse Development Program has opened so many doors for me. It has taught me so much about young horses and has given me the opportunity to learn and grow along with a young horse. When I first got my young horse, Willow, from the Big Valley Ranch in Monterey, Virginia, she was just a young weanling. Teaching her to lead was the first challenge on the list. I began by leading her around the round pen and teaching her to turn in little circles, until eventually I was leading her around our big pasture.
The AQHA Young Horse Development Program allows youth to do all the training and raising of the horse with minimal help from AQHA professionals. I believe that this builds confidence and a sense of achievement in youth. The biggest challenge with Willow was getting her desensitized to scary objects such as bags and tarps. With much repetition and consistent training sessions, she finally got the hang of it. Eventually she could stand on a tarp and would allow me to put an inner tube on her back. The next thing I worked on was desensitizing her to the saddle. Within the second month of training I was able to put the saddle on her, just to allow her to get the feel of it.
Willow soon became the most gentle and desensitized yearling, so I soon began teaching her tricks such as bowing and lying down. I enjoy teaching horses tricks, I believe it adds a little bit of finesse to the training. The year of the Young Horse Development Program flew by so fast! Before I knew it, I was submitting my project book for grading.
It was a cold February day, when I got home from school and opened my email to a great surprise! I had won the AQHA Young Horse Development Program with Willow. I was beyond excited, I even cried happy tears! Willow is definitely a special horse and has pushed me to levels that I never thought were attainable. I would encourage all youth that are into horses to look into the AQHA Young Horse Development Program.
Written By Megan D’Andrea –
To Learn More about the Young Horse Development Program: http://www.aqha.com/AQHYA/Content-Pages/Activities/Young-Horse-Development-Project.aspx
Look For Megan on the July 2015 AQHA Journal Cover! Congratulations on all your hard work…it’s paying off big time! Show your support for Megan and other youth riders by Sharing this on Facebook!