Arena of Dreams – When I heard about this year’s theme for the Youth Worlds my mind immediately jumped to the 1989 film classic Field of Dreams and the unforgettable mantra “If you build it, they will come.” Well that’s exactly what the AQHA did. With 2,402 entries it is obvious that the future of the American Quarter Horse could be found in Oklahoma City for this year’s Youth World Competitions.
From the moment I entered the Super Barn I could tell this was going to be one hot event, and I’m not just talking about the temperature outside! For those of you who weren’t able to join us, Oklahoma was under a heat advisory nearly the entire time the Youth Worlds were in progress. Yes, we were located in that massive red blot found splashed so artistically across the temperature maps. While this presented a huge challenge for our exhibitors (can you say 2 a.m. practice rides?) it didn’t show when they entered the ring. These kids and young adults came to show what they could do and they weren’t going to a let some weather guy forecasting 110° days get in their way. I however, had no such qualms and sought the solace of air conditioning whenever possible!
Looking to escape the heat, I spent the majority of my lunches watching everything from Halter to Western Riding, Showmanship to Trail, and Reining. I should take this moment for a personal note. My horse hates it (that’s underlined, in bold and with an exclamation point) when I attend shows with SmartPak. It’s not that he misses me while I’m away; it’s the peaceful, lazy days he misses when I get back. Bursting with new ambition and expectations of my young and comparably untrained Quarter Horse, we will be launching our new training schedule early next week! While we may not be entering the AQHA World Circuit anytime soon, you better believe we will get our flying lead changes down before the year is over!
Anyway, back to the actual event…when these riders (trainers, parents, and cheering squads should be thrown in here too) aren’t memorizing patterns, squeezing in a practice ride, banding/grooming/cleaning, setting up fans, and cramming for the Horse Bowl they could be found working on their themed stall fronts and prepping for the Parade of Teams. The parade was held on Monday night and brought everyone together to celebrate the spirit and community of the AQHA. Members of the 44 States, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 2 visiting countries marched together as unified teams. While the competitive horse events were done for the day, there was still the spirit competition to contend for. Each team marched to a song, performed a skit, or cheered in attempts to gain points to put towards the final spirit award and as always, these teams did not disappoint! I wish my description could do it justice, but words cannot recreate the laughter and cheering that could be heard for hours that night!
As a small gift to these amazing athletes, SmartPak provided baseball hats to any exhibitor who stopped by our booth in the Cox Pavilion. With a choice of colors, there was a sure fit for everyone! Just ask several of your AQHYA Officers and Representatives. Edwin, District 8’s rep, snatched up one of our popular pink versions to wear with his “Tough Enough” shirt in support of breast cancer awareness. We just can’t wait to see a picture!
As my time at the Youth Worlds came to an end I took my last few hours to watch some of the finals and awards ceremonies. Needless to say these are possibly the most stressful moments of the week and many dreams are made with the words “Your 2010 Youth World Champion is…”. While my position as a spectator was much less stressful than that of the rows of parents and trainers in front of me, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the excitement. The last final that I got to watch was a great one for our friends at High Point Performance Horses. With a one two punch, they took both the reserve Champion and World Champion titles with two of their top performers; A Certain Vino, ridden by Darcy Reeve, and Harley D Zip, ridden by Ali Papendick. High Point Performance Horses has given us the great opportunity to use a few of their star athletes on our covers and throughout the pages of our western catalogs and we here at SmartPak couldn’t be prouder to support such a hard working team!
To wrap things up, I’d just like to say congratulations to all of the competitors, parents and trainers who have poured their blood and sweat into preparing for this amazing competition. Every event I saw highlighted the glimmering future of the American Quarter Horse and it couldn’t be brighter!