As of January 1st, the 2017-2018 AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program has officially begun!

For those who missed last month’s column, the Young Horse Development Program is a program that showcases the stock being bred and raised by AQHA Ranching Heritage breeders. It’s an incredible program for AQHYA youth ages 12 and older that, if accepted, will work with an AQHA Ranching Heritage bred weanling throughout the program year, turning in assignments that track the weanling’s growth and training progress. Assignments that will ultimately be graded at the end of the program. Youth have the opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge acquired as well as earn scholarships and prizes based on their final grade.

This year, the program introduced, a new way to turn in assignments and connect with other participants. A webinar was held January 15th to show the 2017-2018 Young Horse Development contestants the ins and outs of not only how works, but to brush up on every corner of the program itself. I really liked having this opportunity to reaffirm what’s to be expected of us. I believe will be a great addition to the program. For most of our assignments, we will be uploading them straight to this website. will actually notify us once our assignments are received, which is a great way to ensure we’re staying on track.

Our first few assignments: Thank You Note #1, Program Goal Sheet, and January Monthly Report are due February 5th.

Thank You Note #1 is a handwritten note sent to our weanling’s breeder. This is a wonderful opportunity to express gratitude to the breeder, regardless if your weanling was donated or bought. Each weanling is a product of a breeder’s hard work and determination, and we’re extremely lucky to call one our own.
The Program Goal Sheet is where we describe the personal goals we plan to accomplish by participating in the Young Horse Development Program.

And lastly, the January Monthly Report consists of a Horsemanship report (a spreadsheet detailing training, health care, grooming, and other activities), a full body photo of the horse, and a progress report (two to three page report highlighting significant events regarding the care of the horse, current goals, training achievements, or anything else we’d like to share).

All Young Horse Development contestants are encouraged to keep in contact with one another via a private Facebook group, as well as through email. We can share ideas, personal progress, special achievements, ask for advice -anything. It’s wonderful, really. Though everyone is competing against one another, we all still want the best for each contestant and their young horse.

It’s been nearly two months since we brought Brownwoods Girl (aka Cable) home from Campbell Ranch in Seligman, AZ, and she’s doing great! I’ve introduced her to supplements, and she is now being fed American Family Feed’s American Alfalfa Formula, Animal Health Solutions Inc’s Equerry’s Plus, and a mix of Alfalfa and Teff hay. The effects are already beginning to show. Cable is filling out, her coat is shiny and healthy, and as she’s grows in height, her body is still nicely balanced. Down below are links to the American Alfalfa Formula and Equerry’s Plus.

I’m staying patient with Cable, and so far, it’s paid off greatly. She’s now comfortable with me approaching her, brushing her, working in the round pen, and wearing a halter. She’s learning to respond to common vocal cues such as “walk on”, “trot on”, “woah”, and “back”. I’ve been working on desensitizing her to a halter, and she’s now comfortable with me walking up to her and tying it on or taking it off. The extra time I spent in the beginning, just building her trust in me, has greatly helped us. The other day, I introduced her to a large jacket for the first time and ended up swinging it over her. She didn’t even flinch! I’m very proud of the progress she’s made since last month’s column. I’m working on desensitizing her to a lead line and will branch into leading her soon.

Cable is definitely not the wary, skittish filly she was when we brought her home. Her curious, mischievous, and wickedly smart personality is already showing through.

She’s not “in your pocket”, but her respectful independence is something I admire. In training, she picks up things really quick. Sometimes she picks up things I’d rather her not know, like how to unlatch her stall gate (I’ve clipped a chain around it now, so in the future she can’t put that new-found talent to use).

Cable is already proving herself to be an amazing filly. Her intelligence and eagerness to learn are things I believe will serve us well not only during this program, but throughout her entire life.

Until next time,
Samantha Hornberger

American Family Feed – American Alfalfa Formula

Animal Health Solutions Inc – Equerry’s Plus