The 2012 American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) Youth of the Year Contest took place at this year’s Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show®, held October 6-13 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. It is with great enthusiasm that AMHA honors Ellery Walker of Marshall, Michigan, as its 2012 Youth of the Year winner, and Rebecca Jones of Efland, North Carolina, as the reserve champion.
The contestants participate in a rigorous four-part test throughout the course of two days. Included are a written exam, an oral presentation and interview, a ridden or driven horsemanship pattern, and a judging division with a reasons portion. The winner of this prestigious contest earns a custom-designed awards package valued at $2,500 and is generously sponsored by the Cynthia Elaine Epperson Trust. Walker placed second in both the oral presentation and written exam and received first place in the horsemanship pattern, thus earning her the Brook Burress Memorial Trophy. Jones was second in both the horsemanship pattern and horse judging divisions. She also has earned a custom-designed awards package for her accomplishment.
Walker is a senior at Olivet High School and Battle Creek Math/Science Center. She plans to study architecture at the University of Michigan. Jones is a junior at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she is studying accounting.
“I did my first youth contest when I was ten and was immediately hooked,” Walker said. “I loved the way it encouraged versatile youth, not just kids who could ride well. I have become very well-rounded in my Morgan knowledge over the years with the judging, the tests, and different speech topics. There are so many great versatile youth in the breed, and I love that the Youth of the Year contest is a way to show off their talents and reward them for their dedication. I’m so excited to represent the breed as the 2012 Youth of the Year, and I can’t wait to encourage more kids to take part in this wonderful contest!”
“I really enjoyed my experience this year in the AMHA Youth of the Year finals,” Jones said. “I have been involved with Morgan horses for about 12 years, but since coming to college, I am not able to be as actively involved in the show ring. Because it is primarily educationally based, the Youth of the Year finals allows me to still compete while I am in school. This win means so much to me because the Morgan horse world has been a big part of my life since I was a child. I am glad that I can be a representative for the breed and remain involved in the sport while I am still in school.”
“Organizing this contest and actually being a part of it to make it happen was so rewarding,” said Taylor Royals, AMHA Youth Coordinator. “Seeing the contestants have fun and succeed brought back many memories I have of my youth years in the Morgan world.”
Each year, dozens of youth contests are held across the country, hosted by horse shows, state Morgan clubs, and local youth groups. The Youth of the Year program offers participants an opportunity to improve his or her skills in the area of horsemanship, sportsmanship, public speaking, decision-making, and judging. The senior (age 14-21) winner of a local contest qualifies to compete in the Youth of the Year Finals, held each year at the Grand National & World Championship Morgan Horse Show.
Founded in 1909, the American Morgan Horse Association is a non-profit organization serving more than 50,000 Morgan horse owners, breeders, exhibitors, and enthusiasts throughout the United States. AMHA serves as a parent organization to more than 100 recognized Morgan horse clubs and national service organizations. You can learn more about AMHA at www.morganhorse.com.