Top Six Reasons why Youth Should Participate in their State Association


As we walked into Jim Norick arena together in Oklahoma City, side-by-side-by-side while screaming Ohio, my heart raced from pure excitement. All the youth exhibitors surrounding me had smiles on their faces as we all strutted for the Parade of Teams at the AQHYA World Show.

Little did I know that after August, those people would become some of my closest friends. Following the world show in 2016, I began to participate with the Ohio Quarter Horse Youth Association (OQHYA) and have since attended the monthly meetings, helped with events at Congress, and took part in the year-end banquet this past February.

Now that I avidly participate in OQHYA, I realize that I had been missing out on so many opportunities to make new connections and develop lasting friendships with kids all across Ohio. Because I wish I understood the benefits sooner in my youth career, I have listed the reasons why joining your state youth association is the best decision you will make in your horse showing experience.

1. Meeting New People
Meeting people is the most significant benefit of joining the organization. By seeing fellow members at monthly meetings, horse shows, and other events, every exhibitor establishes a bond with the others because of the community they all support.

To speak from personal experience, I now have friends from all across Ohio, most significantly from the Columbus area. We see each other every month at meetings and horse shows. During the time in between, we keep up with one another daily on all forms of social media. When we see each other, we pick up right where we left off as if we spent every day with one another. It is such a unique family to belong to because of the never ending support, humor, and dedication each one of us possesses.

2. Learn Dynamics of the Industry
By participating in organized events, which include running horse shows, fundraisers, or other activities, the youth of all ages can develop an understanding of the vast undertaking it takes to run a horse show. Participating in these activities helps kids meet adults, trainers, amateurs, and leaders who make up the industry. Participating in events such as fundraisers allows the youth association to partner up with OQHA to develop a plan of action, including preplanning, purpose, and budgeting.

3. Attend Informational Events
All throughout the show season, youth are presented a multitude of opportunities to expand their knowledge about riding, showing, business, and leadership to develop their skills for their future careers both inside and outside of the show pen. The most significant informational event is the Youth Excellence Seminar (YES) held in July. YES allows youth from across the country to bond through team building activities, learn from professionals in the field, and discover leadership positions. Many describe it as an “experience unlike any other” and greatly value their participation because of the relationships they established.

Aside from YES, youth who attend the world show are given the opportunity to go to “Ride the Pattern” clinics in which some of the top trainers in their respective discipline demonstrate the most efficient way to perform their pattern. Since many of the trainers are also judges, they can provide riders with insight into the score cards during these clinics. Because this is an open community event at the world show, youth can watch the event together and collaborate with each another and with their trainers about how they will perform.

4. Learn Management and Leadership Skills
By running for President, Vice President, Secretary, or other positions, kids can learn how to organize and direct meetings, contact people, and work with other officers. Before running for a position, you must fully understand the responsibilities it entails because a whole group of youth relies on you to complete your job. The President and Vice President must know how to manage a large group, which teaches them real life skills for future occupations.

If you do not feel cut out to be a leader, you can join a committee, which is a small group who organize a particular area of the association. For example, OQHYA has a media committee to run youth spotlights, social media, and some reporting. Both leaders and boards typically collaborate through conference calls, which is also a very common form of communication in business.

5. Join an NYATT Team
Every year at the Congress, there is a day of showing dedicated to the National Youth Activity Team Tournament (NYATT) in which youth show and earn points for their team. Being part of a team allows them to learn to support one another while showing. All team members build close friendships while cheering one another on for different disciplines. At the end of the day, all teams gather and parade into the Coliseum for the awards ceremony. Overall, it is an event filled with great prizes, fun activities, and doing what everyone loves best…showing.

6. Fundraising and Service Opportunities
Many youth associations run fundraisers at events, such as selling 50/50 raffle tickets, to help the youth fund their practices throughout the year. Furthermore, as a group, the participants can brainstorm activities to give back to the community. Service opportunities could include volunteering at soup kitchens, charities, animal shelters, and so much more which allow the youth to bond while supporting those in need.

In all, I strongly encourage all youth to join their state association because of the everlasting impact the experience will have on their life. Start researching and join today.