I belong to the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), an organization that maintains a long history of backing programs for riders and horses. Currently the AQHA’s philanthropic activities include providing scholarships to individuals pursuing an education in the equine industry and supporting funding for therapeutic riding programs for children with special needs.
The American Quarter Horse Foundation’s scholarship program offers financial assistance to members of the AQHA and the American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) to pursue racing, professional training, higher education, and other ventures. The Foundation selects recipients based on their academic standing, financial need, leadership background, and achievements working with American Quarter Horses. The AQHA offers four unique scholarship types.
~General scholarships support undergraduate or graduate educational pursuits of any kind, allowing members of the AQHA, 4-H, or the National FFA Organization to advance professionally.
~Racing grants promote growth within the equine racing industry by backing those students seeking careers in the business, whether in racetrack management, veterinary medicine, or a similar field.
~Career path scholarships promote those persons pursuing employment in positions related to the horse industry, such as jobs in animal science or therapeutic riding.
~State and regional grants reinforce the work of the AQHA’s youth affiliate ambassadors.
Active in promoting therapeutic riding centers nationwide, the AQHA awards funding through the America’s Horse Cares grant program. With money from the initiative, the therapy programs can help riders with Down syndrome, autism, and other developmental and disabling conditions improve their physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities.
About the author: Addison, Texas-based rider Antoinette Rand balances her career in energy development by participating in reining competitions and other equine events. Antoinette Rand maintains affiliations with the AQHA, the National Reining Horse Association, the Southwest Reining Horse Association, and similar organizations.
The sport of reining exhibits the athletic ability of horses by running them through established patterns that include lead changes, rollbacks, spins, sliding stops, and circles of various sizes and speeds. Riders guide their horses through these patterns before an audience; a panel of judges uses an intricate scoring system to rate contestants. During the reining competition, horses vary their gait between a lope and a gallop, according to the demands of the pattern. Ideally, horses remain responsive to their riders without the use of visual aids. Horses should put up no significant resistance, willingly following the lead of their riders.
Reining dates back to the earliest settlers in North America. As they began to establish ranches, they required efficient methods of managing their cattle. Generally, they herded their cattle on open ranges without barns or fences. In order to control their herds, cowboys required horses to stop and turn quickly. They usually only had one hand free to control the horse as they used the other to perform a variety of tasks, such as roping. Eventually, individuals began demonstrating their techniques at informal events. These shows gradually evolved into the sport of reining, as well as several other related competitions. Similar developments in other areas of the world, such as Argentina and Australia, integrated with reining as the sport reached international prominence.
The sport has grown exponentially in popularity over the past decades, especially with the advent of organizations such as the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA). Today, more than 15,000 members belong to the organization, which operates more than 700 shows. The NRHA Executive Committee works with a number of other equine organizations around the world to promote the sport.
About the Author: Antoinette Rand actively participates in a number of groups dedicated to the promotion of competitive horse events and breeds, including the NRHA and the American Quarter Horse Association. A resident of Texas, she additionally belongs to a number of local organizations. Dedicated to giving back to the community, Antoinette Rand has also participated in Team In Training, through which she raised funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.