”Young Western Riders” The show season is well under way and we are already seeing some great riding from the few Youth riders we have with many youth classes having only one or two riders or worse still, no entries at all and with so few youth riders taking up the sport, we are all going to need to put our thinking caps on and come up with a few ideas..!
If showing is the pinnacle of all our hard work and the putting into practise of all those hours spent perfecting a particular manoeuvre that finally went really well for you under the eyes of your fellow competitors and the judges, then you should be proud of yourself for each step on the long road to perfection is one step closer to a great achievement.
Nothing would make me happier than to have a gang of youth riders bombarding me with e-mails and requests to set-up clinics and to run training camps to teach Western Riding and to build a team of riders who in time would be capable of and proud to represent Britain in European and Global competition, but this is not about making me happy, it’s about having the vision and the foresight to make it happen, however, until our youth riders can be trained or work towards being part of Team GB, they need to come forward and to make themselves known to their WES, AQHA or BR Area Representative who will try to involve beginners and experienced riders in regional activities that revolve around geographic locations and riding ability.
I would like to ask every trainer and owner of a Western Training Establishments to dig deep and give some thought to what could be done in your area to help get young riders in the saddle and doing Western Riding, or at least find out if there is any interest and then lets try and build on that for starters..?
The goals for our Youth riders are very simple….
We need to identify youth riders who want to build their ability and confidence through working with qualified Western Professionals who can teach beginners and trained riders to improve their western riding skill, be it in the sand school, on trail rides, or in the show ring where practise really does make perfect horse sense..!
All three UK based Western Organisations are committed to helping Youth Riders be it through Free Membership for Youth with British Reining and plenty of Small Fry classes now being held. AQHA with a whole raft of Youth Classes at all the UK Shows backed by funding to help sponsor training clinics and WES who earlier in the year launched the Youth Western Rider Incentive Program which is geared to giving new youth riders the skills and experience to feel what it is like to ride a Western trained horse.
There seems to be a shortage of lots of things at the moment, but one thing is for sure, when Western Reining finally hits our shores as the fastest growing equestrian sport in the Europe, we are all going to have to hang onto our hats, wake up and smell the coffee because its going to be COOL to ride Western and I for one hope we are able to get as many youth riders switched on to having fun, meeting people, riding these magnificent horses and who knows, maybe even represent their country in an International Competition.
Written with sincere thanks and appreciation to AQHA, WES, BR and Western Horse Magazine for supporting our young riders.
John Rudd (Youth Officer) – WES & AQHA UK