EC Blog by: Cameron Crenwelge
The month following the AQHYA World Championship show is a time to sit down and reflect. For me, it’s typically a time to evaluate my performance in comparison to years past and set goals for the next Youth World. But, this year was different. Yes, I was still able to compare my performance to years past, but I found it hard to set goals for the future when I had no idea what the future has in store for me.
Instead I found myself looking back on more than just my past performances: at the horses, people, organizations, and experiences that helped mold me into the exhibitor that exited the Norick arena for the last time as a youth competitor just a few weeks ago. I reached out to a few fellow youth competitors for their thoughts and reflections concerning their conclusion of their youth careers with AQHA.
“Thank you to my parents. Thank you for your unparalleled support and willingness to take me all over the country to chase my dreams. To my aunt, Lisa Moden, thank you for your guidance and being one of my biggest supporters. To Jeff Mellott and Leslie Lange, thank you for working so hard with me and pushing me every day to become a better rider. As cliché as it sounds, I would not be the rider I am today without your guidance. Thank you to all my barn family for being the best cheerleaders and for making horse shows so much fun!”
“Most importantly, I would like to thank my partner, Blazeless, aka “Rodney.” Even at 20 years old, you still gave me 110% during all of our rides at our final Youth World together. Your young spirit and love for ANY kind of food truly makes being around you so enjoyable.”
“Thank you to everyone who has ever been involved in my youth career. It’s been a great ride!”
“As my youth career comes to an end, I realize I am permanently turning the page on my riding career as a whole. However, I don’t find sadness in this transition; I feel excited and ready to start a new adventure in my adult life and my amateur show career. Many things are changing for me as this summer comes to a close. I’m starting college, moving away from my closest family and friends, and leaving my show horses for much longer than I normally would while I’m at school. Regardless of these huge changes, I feel the need to reflect and express my gratitude to every horse, person, and experience that has transformed me to the horsewoman I am now.”
“I end my almost nine-year-long youth career unlike many other talented competitors I have faced. I have never won a coveted golden globe at the AQHYA World show. I have never won a beautiful AQHA Congress trophy. I have never been able to hold a NSBA World Champion trophy in my hands. Despite not achieving these landmark wins in my career, I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences, good or bad, for the world. All of the tears, all of the smiles, all of the 3 am mornings, 14 hour long days at the barn, and the difficult horses have taught me something. My time with my horses and in this industry has shown me who I am as a person and the passion I carry for horses in my heart.”
“I may not be finishing what many people would call a “successful” youth career, but I feel that the life lessons and experiences have given me more than any trophy or major win ever could. It’s everyone’s aspiration to win in this extremely expensive and competitive industry, but it truly isn’t everything. At the end of each day, a true winner is someone, who win or lose, hero or zero, is still able to look at their trainers, horses, and family/friends with a grateful heart and thankful spirit.”
“So, as we all embark on our newest journey from our youth careers into amateur, keep this invaluable quote in mind. “It is your response to winning and losing, that makes you a winner or a loser.” – Harry Sheehy
“My youth career showing in AQHA has been an enormous blessing in my life. My dad always told me, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right,” since I was young. Showing horses allows me to hear this quote every time I’m riding and has shaped me into the hardworking and dedicated rider I am today. Traveling to shows has also taught me many life lessons any other sport couldn’t have. Overcoming adversity has been one of the most important lessons I learned. Without the many horses I have shown and great trainers who have coached me, I would never have come so far as a rider or person. Special thank you to Brad Jewett for taking the last two years of my youth career and making them the most memorable as well as finding me my once-in-a-lifetime horse. Also, thank you to my dad for always supporting me, pushing me, and giving me the opportunity to chase my dreams. I know horses can’t read but, thank you Dice for giving your all every time we step into the show pen and making me laugh, smile, and love every single day.”
“As I am an only child, my parents wanted an activity that my dad and I could do together. So, we chose horseback riding lessons, and I started taking lessons and then began showing at open shows. I then started showing Quarter Horses. When I was at my first World Show, at the age of 10, I decided I wanted to show in Trail and all-around events. That’s when we decided Judd and Jennifer Paul were the perfect fit for us. They are absolutely amazing. They found me Brett when I was 15, and I’ve been showing him since.”
“To begin my thank you’s, I firstly must thank my parents, who have been my number one supporters. They always make sure I have everything I need to succeed. Thank you to Judd and Jennifer, who have truly become like second parents to me and have taken me under their wing and made me the rider I am today. Thank you to my friends, who have supported me all along the way. Their love and support is unreal. Lastly, thank you to Brett. He is so special to me that it’s hard to put into words. He holds my whole entire heart; no matter what I’ve been through Brett, has been my happiness. He is my once-in-a-lifetime and my best friend. I am overly excited to take on my amateur career with him and make a million more memories!”
“I have been showing at the lope as an AQHA youth for more than 10 years. I’ve made my way through the ranks of novice and held my own in the arena with the best of the best. I can say with confidence that I would not be the person I am today without horses. My years in the pen have shaped me in so many ways. It gave me the opportunity to meet the people, and horses, that have changed my life and gave me the courage to tackle whatever challenges life throws my way.”
“I started training under Jennifer Stein ten years ago. She has seen me at my best and my worst and has never been afraid to tell me which times were which. Through her and the handful of horses I have owned, I have learned infinite patience, dedication, and motivation in the face of failure. Thank you for helping me accomplish the successes that I will never forget, even years from now, when the ribbons are gone.”
“So, as this chapter of my life comes to a close, I’m fortunate to have been a small part of AQHA for the last ten years. To all of you, who have some youth years left, don’t take them for granted. Enjoy the 2 am rides, the thrill of jogging down the center of the arena with all eyes on you, and the victories big and small. Remember to stay humble; because, even though you’re in the pen alone, it took a village to get you there.”