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A Horse For Free. Really?

Filed under: Featured,The Buzz |     

Jacqueline and Ferris

By: Brittany Bevis

Mother-daughter duo, Adrianne and Jacqueline Potwora have been involved in the performance horse side of the industry for quite some time.

Growing up on 30 acres, Adrianne was the first person in her family to want a horse. Luckily, her parents had the room and fulfilled her wish one Christmas morning. Adrianne showed horses throughout her entire life, even when she met and married her husband, Joe, a self professed “city slicker.”

“He had no idea what he was getting into when he married me; although, my mom did try to warn him!” Adrianne laughs.

Adrianne has worked with Shannon McCulloch Training Stables for over 25 years, so when it came time to introduce her daughter, Jacqueline, to horses, that’s where the second generation’s journey began as well. Jacqueline currently shows The Absolute Best in classes like Equitation, Hunter Under Saddle, Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, and Showmanship. This summer, they were the NSBA World Champions in Youth Equitation.

But, let’s back up to 2016 when Equitation aficionado, Jacqueline, had decided that she wanted a new challenge. She wanted to raise a foal. “I was very focused on getting a baby horse and kept asking my parents for one, but they obviously told me no way! Then, I heard about the Young Horse Development program at the AQHA YES Conference and told my mom about it. She thought it was a great idea, because she assumed nothing would come of it, so I completed the application. It was the best decision I’ve made!”

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program matches donated weanlings from Ranching Heritage breeders with youth members, 12 years old and older, who then raise and train the young horses. The program not only gives these youth a horse for free, it allows them to learn responsibility, goal-setting, and good horse ownership skills. Prizes and scholarship money are also at stake, because once the youth receive their horses, a nine-month long competition begins and they must showcase the skills and knowledge they have learned through video diaries and meetings with AQHA Professional Horsemen in their area.

Jacqueline and Adrianne

“When Jacqueline told me about this program, I looked into it and told her to apply,” Adrianne says. “I honestly didn’t think she would be selected. We don’t live on a ranch. We only have one horse. We have no experience in raising a baby and didn’t know anything about Ranch Riding. I didn’t think much about it and forgot to tell my husband that she applied. What a surprise a few months later when she got a letter congratulating her on her new horse. My husband jokingly calls the horse, Ferris, ‘Deception.’ I told him it was a don’t ask, don’t tell situation!”

When Ferris made the journey from South Dakota to Oregon, Jacqueline thought her new foal was cute and had quite the personality, but she was scared to go in his stall. “I remember thinking that this little horse is mine and now what? I got to name him, and since he had a Cutting background, I decided to name him RWS Cuttin Class. I knew nothing about Reining, Ranching, or Cutting when I started this adventure. The nine-month competition was from January to September, and it was awesome because it helped give me goals and let me know what I should be doing with Ferris. We had a monthly report to complete, some tests, and conference calls. We also had to do an in-hand trail video, bathing video, and trailering video. This was a competition and when it was over, the points were totaled up and I was 4th overall!”

During that time period, Jacqueline was required to meet with AQHA Professional Horseman, Chrissa Westbrooks, who she says was instrumental in helping to develop Ferris’ foundation. “I was glad to have someone to check in with and ask questions. I think spending so much time with a baby and giving him a solid foundation and trust really helped when it was time to put a saddle on. He took it in stride.”

Fast forward to 2019 and Ferris was now three years old and ready to compete at the AQHA Level 1 Championships East in Las Vegas. Jacqueline and Ferris placed sixth in Rookie Youth Ranch Riding and third in 3-Year-Old Halter. Adrianne rode Ferris to place fourth in Rookie Amateur Ranch Riding, ninth in Level 1 Select Ranch Riding, and Reserve in 3-Year-Old Halter. “The best part about the schedule is that Jacqueline did her classes first so she got Ferris all warmed up for me!” Adrianne jokes.

Jacqueline and Ferris

“We didn’t know a thing about Ranch Riding when we started. We both have expanded our horse knowledge, experiences and have met awesome folks on ‘the other side.’ What I really like about these Ranching Heritage horses is their mindset,” Adrianne says. “Ferris is so easygoing, a pleaser, hard worker and let’s us try about anything. He reminds me of the horses I had back when I was a youth.”

Jacqueline is excited to take Ferris to the AQHA Level 1 Championship West in the spring of 2020 and will add Reining to their list of classes. “I’m a senior in high school, so I told my mom that she could borrow him and show while I’m in college. She’s interested in the Versatility Ranch Horse classes and also the Zoetis Ranching Challenge. Of course, she knows nothing about these classes yet, but we know who to ask.”

Looking back on her experience with the Young Horse Development program, Jacqueline feels grateful to have had the opportunity to own a horse like Ferris that has introduced her to a side of the horse industry she knew nothing about.

“This is an amazing program. We have told everyone about it and have encouraged people to apply. The funny thing about this is when we tell people you get a horse for free. Most everyone says, ‘What do you do? Send him back after the year?’ They don’t believe the horse is really a gift, and it takes a few times of explaining for them to get it. I’m thankful to Sutton Ranch and all the other Ranching Heritage Ranches that generously donate these babies.”

If you have a great story about a topic in the horse industry, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration. 

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