What is the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program

There are times in your life that just hit you, really hit you, and you know that you’ll never forget that moment. It’s forever etched into memory, something so incredible that it brings a fond smile to your face whenever it’s recalled. For me, Tuesday, October 24, 2017 held one of these moments.

On that day, I received an acceptance letter into the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program. It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, and finally got the guts to send in an application for.

What’s the AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program, you might ask?

It’s an incredible opportunity 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 program showcases the stock being bred and raised by AQHA Ranching Heritage members by matching donated weanlings with AQHYA members. Youth are engaged in the horse industry at a fundamental level that is both fun and educational as they learn to raise and train. They learn responsibility and goal-setting, important components of equine ownership.

The weanlings eligible for this program are specifically from AQHA Ranching Heritage breeders. A limited number of youth are matched up with a donated foal, but those that were accepted into the program yet not lined up with a foal are still more than welcome to purchase one from an AQHA Ranching Heritage breeder.

Yes, I did mention donated. Participating AQHA Ranching Heritage breeders graciously donate weanlings every year for YHD participants to raise and train. These breeders dedicate themselves to the furtherment of not only the American Quarter Horse, but the American Quarter Horse Youth Association members.

I was lucky enough to be selected to receive a weanling graciously donated by Joe and Vivian Campbell of Campbell Ranch in Seligman, AZ. Joe and Vivian Campbell were so kind when I emailed them, sending me pictures of the filly and setting up a date for us to come pick her up. From the first moment I saw her (through a picture on my phone), I fell in love.

My filly (it’s still a little surreal to call her that!) is registered as Brownwoods Girl, I call her Cable. She’s by Chaco Red and out of Brownwood Mary, her lines going back to legends like Cee Booger Red, Zan Parr Bar, Poco Tivio, Sugar Bars, and Driftwood, just to name a few.

We arranged a time to pick her up on November 25, and set off on the few hour trek to Seligman early that morning. I brought along my gelding, Timber, to help make the trip home easier on Cable. Joe and Vivian Campbell were so kind, and it was amazing to meet their family and visit their ranch. Campbell Ranch has been producing quality Quarter Horses for over a hundred years, and their dedication as well as hard work is evident everywhere you look. All of the geldings they use on the ranch are homebred and raised, each as well mannered as the next. I got the privilege to meet Cable’s half brother, out of the same dam (Brownwoods Girl), and he was incredible. Almost sixteen hands tall and built like a tank. Short back, long underline, low hocks, big bones. I can’t even express the perfection! All their horses are so solid, not just conformation wise but in their mindset as well. I let Timber out with Cable for a few minutes while we talked, and the two quickly hit it off. When it came time to load, I locked Timber in the first divider and, with the help of the Campbells, herded Cable up into the trailer. Having Timber there with her definitely helped; she settled down real quick.

I checked on her repeatedly on the way back home, but she handled the trip like a champ! That first night, we backed the trailer up to the pasture, and from there I herded her into her stall. She was a little wary at first, swerving and ducking if you tried to approach her, so I spent the rest of that evening just simply hanging around her while I got some chores done, letting her get used to my presence. I know it’s going to be a challenging road ahead, but I’m so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow alongside an amazing little filly. I’m also so excited to share our journey throughout this program with you all!

Until next time, Samantha Hornberger.