PHJ press release by: Megan Brincks
Not too many things can keep a horse-crazy kid away from the barn, but sometimes other obligations, like school, put a damper on riding and showing.
When the school that AjPHA members Lauren and Nicholas Gralla attend started to raise an eyebrow at the kids’ absences due to showing their Paints, parents Todd and Tonya Gralla of Norman, Oklahoma, saw an easy solution: education.
“It started with a meeting with Lauren and Nicholas’ school principal to request absences for horse showing, which is not considered by our school district to be a legitimate absence,” Todd said. “While others are being excused for sports, our children were not allowed to pursue an equally important sport, which also can garner scholarship money to continue their education.”
After showing the principal, who had ridden horses as a child, the scholarship money both children won while attending the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and other recent shows, the Grallas received not only permission to miss school to show their horses, but also a request to teach more children to horses and showing.
“She was extremely pleased that I had brought this to her attention. She was aware that we show horses but had no idea of our commitment to the horses and showing and that the kids could win scholarship money,” Todd explained. “We love to expose people to horses, so we agreed to make it happen.”
A few weeks later, Lauren saddled up RL Sudden Style, a 2000 chestnut overo gelding by A Sudden Impulse (QH) and out of Good Goin Jackie (QH), for a demonstration for other children at school. The gelding has helped both Lauren and Nicholas earn APHA points, and Nicholas rode him to a world championship title in Youth Lead Line at the 2013 AjPHA World Championship Show. Lauren has earned multiple Registers of Merit, and she was Reserve World Champion in Walk-Trot Western Horsemanship at the 2013 Youth World Show.
“Lauren demonstrated basic gaits and horse movements, rode several patterns and explained to children about Paint Horses and parts of the horse and equipment,” Todd said.
They also brought along a smaller pinto pony for the kids to pet that wouldn’t be as intimidating as the large horse.
After the demonstration, the school held an assembly for about 300 children to see a presentation of photos from horse shows.
By speaking up and explaining to the school exactly why showing and riding horses is important, the Grallas found a better solution for the kids to miss school when needed, and they also opened the door for other children to learn about horses and identify with a sport foreign to them.