By Delores Kuhlwein
Lately everyone seems to be talking about how to get more youth involved in the industry.
The Missouri Quarter Horse Association just may have the answer, and it’s in the form of their Charities Committee. On August 21st, they wrapped up their 6th year of the “Fall Festival All-Breed Youth Horse Show,” an outreach show for youth exhibitors of all levels and horses of all breeds held at National Equestrian Center in Lake St. Louis, Missouri.
The Fun of the Fall Festival
The show was the brainchild of Dr. Pam Downing, the MQHA Charities Committee Chair, inspired by a now defunct youth show called the Fall Harvest. “It was hugely successful. That show lost its facility when the Boone County Fairgrounds closed. This created a huge void for the entry level youth in Missouri,” explains Downing. “I wanted to create a fun, affordable and inviting show for youth who might not otherwise get to have this experience.”
Each year, the Missouri Quarter Horse Charities Committee assures the show is unprecedented for excitement and fun, with beautiful ribbons, high point buckles, reserve high point halters and spur straps, prize tickets, sponsored exhibitor parties, and a scavenger hunt each day for “golden tickets” that earn exhibitors special prizes.
Amazingly, they do it all every year with support from sponsors and volunteers.
“Everyone who helps put the show together does it as a volunteer,” says Linda S. Murphy, Executive Director of the Missouri Quarter Horse Association. “From our judges to our scribes, office staff, announcer, and gate people, etc…everyone does it for their love of horses and children!”
For example, Christian Jauntig with Topline Event Management, who manages the MQHA shows, volunteered to judge and he brought a scribe with him this year. The sponsors also play an irreplaceable part in making the show a reality, as well as supporting the Charities Committee.
“Without our sponsorship base to support this concept and the volunteers, we could never afford to have such an event! I feel truly blessed and grateful that they have also embraced the Fall Festival All Breed
Horse Show,” says Dr. Dowling.
Cara Harmon, Youth Advisor, Missouri Quarter Horse Youth Association, explains, “The Fall Festival All Breed Youth Horse Show has provided the Missouri Quarter Horse Youth Association (MQHYA) with an incredible outreach opportunity to connect youth who share a passion for horses throughout Missouri and surrounding states.”
The Deeper Purpose of the Show
But the overall goal of their nonprofit is something even grander, explains Murphy. “The bonus event is that MQHA Charities awards scholarships each year!”
Dr. Downing says the charities were given the task of creating and funding a scholarship program for the Missouri Quarter Horse Association, and the show allows them to accomplish this goal. “It’s a win/win for everyone!” she says.
Harmon also explains it’s rewarding to see MQHYA memberships come through whose name you recognize from the show. “There are many ways to become involved with MQHYA through showing, leadership, and scholarship opportunities. This show allows us to share these opportunities,” she says.
The 2022 scholarship, presented by Janice Spears of MFA Incorporated, was awarded to Emmilie McNeely Losey from Wathena, Kansas, to continue her education.
For associations considering a similar type of outreach, Downing says to keep it simple and make it an event in which other want to participate. “Other affiliates can also check out our Facebook page at Fall Festival All Breed Youth Horse Show – Presented by MQHA Charities,” says Murphy, where she says everyone can see a show filled with an uncontained level of excitement.
You can additionally check out the Fall Festival All Breed Youth Horse Show website for more information:
Below please enjoy a gallery of some of the winners from the show: