March 23, 2010 -- Youth horse enthusiasts from across the country gathered in Lexington, Ky., for the 33rd Annual National Youth Horse Leaders Symposium on March 19-21, 2010. Volunteers, teens, industry professionals and other youth horse enthusiasts participated in roundtable discussions, attended lectures and arena sessions, networked and honored leaders in the youth horse industry
"With attention focused on Kentucky this year due to the World Equestrian Games, it seemed logical to hold the American Youth Horse Council's (AYHC) National Youth Horse Leaders Symposium in Lexington," said Rich Wilcke Director of the Equine Industry Program at the University of Louisville and AYHC Treasurer and symposium host. "We had a wonderful meeting, and I'm very pleased that we were able to give our horse folks an opportunity and an excuse to visit the Bluegrass during this historic year."
The weekend started with two pre-conference tours. The day kicked-off with a visit to legendary equine establishments around Lexington. This tour was sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The second tour was to the Youth Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park which was sponsored by EQUUS Magazine/Equine Network.
A full weekend of educational sessions and activities geared specifically at the teen leaders made it a great event for young horse enthusiasts to meet peers from across the country. The youth participated in a variety of activities throughout the weekend including learning how to do body condition scoring of horses, watching demonstrations from the University of Kentucky Polo Team, Gypsy Vanner Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses and more.
Other attendees enjoyed the networking with youth leaders from far and near during the roundtables. Speakers on three tracks shared their knowledge of event tips, loss of land for horses, horseless horse clubs, the necessity of cross-training the horse and rider and much more. Attendees were treated to arena demonstrations at the new indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games coming this fall. They also saw Julie Goodnight, the U.S. Mounted Games Team and the Lexington Mounted Police Unit.
The AYHC Youth Leader of the Year Award goes to an outstanding adult leader whose dedication and volunteer efforts have furthered the youth-horse industry. The recipient of the 2009 National Youth Horse Leader of the Year is Deborah Manring from Sunbury, Ohio. She has been a dedicated promoter of youth and horses for over 23 years educating youth and leaders. Manring is the inspirational coach of Horse Bowl, Hippology and Horse Judging teams. This is what is being said about her. "I am a third year veterinary student and student member of the AAEP, I would not be where I am today without the help and guidance of Debbie." "Debbie has always encouraged us to be a team, not just talented individuals, and that is one of the best things about working with her." The finalists for AYHC Youth Horse Leader of the Year were Jean Smith of Danville, Ky., and Darryll-Ann Buschling of Clarksville, Md.
The AYHC Student Leader of the Year recognizes the same qualities in an outstanding young person who has shown leadership in the horse industry. Christine Whittier of Elk River, Minn., was named 2009 AYHC Student Leader of the Year. Some of her contributions and achievements include 4-H County Federation President, Club President, Ambassador, member of the Pinto Horse Association, Half-Arabian Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association and United States Equestrian Federation; Mentored 4-H members in the Horseless Project to advance to Horse Project; Conference attendance: B.L.U. (Building Leadership and Understanding), the Big MAC (Minnesota Association of Cooperatives) Youth Leadership Conference and Y.E.L.L.O (Youth Exploring Learning and Leadership Out loud!) and Community volunteer through 4-H and MPHA. The finalists for AYHC Youth Student Leader of the Year were Haley Rudacille from Dover, Pa., and Mimi Gros of Parkland, Fla.
The AYHC Partnership Award recognizes an organization for a program or formal activity that provides leadership and inspiration to young people in accordance with the overall mission of AYHC exemplified by its motto, "Connecting Kids through Horses." The 2009 winner is the Pony Club Riding Center from the United States Pony Club in Lexington, Ky. USPC offers the Pony Club Riding Centers Program through facilities with established riding lesson programs. It is a distinctive departure from the traditional club structure. Initiated in 2005, the PCRC program is now 53 centers strong with more than 600 members. Members move through the Standards of Proficiency, 10 levels of achievement demonstrating advancing skills in both riding and horse management. The program also develops camaraderie, responsibility, self-confidence and leadership.
The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a person who has shown dedication and service to AYHC and the youth horse industry as a whole. The 2009 AYHC Distinguished Service Award winner is Norm Luba from Louisville, Ky. Luba is the Executive Director for the North American Equine Ranching Information Council, which is committed to providing the latest information and research on all aspects of the equine ranching industry--including equine ranch management, horse care, breeding practices and innovative marketing programs. He was instrumental in the development of the Horse Industry Handbook, an AYHC classic and reference text for many organizations' horse care knowledge competitions and programs. Norm enabled the AYHC to print the first edition of the Handbook. He is a board member and former president of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, a founding board member of the Kentucky Horse Council and a board member of the Animal Welfare Council. What people say about him: "Norm's history of service to AYHC and the equine industry is exemplary. He thinks outside of the box to address industry needs and issues. His vision, involvement, and leadership promote far reaching, positive, and enduring youth and industry initiatives. "Norm is most deserving of this award for his ongoing support and contributions to the well-being of our industry."
AYHC provides encouragement, communication, leadership and resources to serve and promote the youth horse industry. Visit target="_blank">www.AYHC.com for more information. The 34th Annual National Youth Horse Leaders Symposium will be held in Lansing, Mich., March 11-13, 2011.