AQHA Renews Sponsorship

AQHA renews sponsorship of the National High School Rodeo Association-AQHA Horse of the Year Program.

National High School Rodeo Association
January 9, 2013

2012 Built Ford Tough AQHYA Breakaway World Champions Ryder Ladner and Starbuck San Lena

AQHYA members have the opportunity to compete in the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show and are eligible to apply for $137,000 in scholarships.

No one understands the value of a great horse more than the American Quarter Horse Association, a fact that became even more obvious when AQHA renewed its sponsorship of the National High School Rodeo Association-AQHA Horse of the Year Program.

A popular institution among NHSRA members, the horse of the year program recognizes the best American Quarter Horses that high school and junior high rodeo have to offer. NHSRA contestants in both high school and junior high, who are also members of AQHA, can nominate their American Quarter Horses, the official horse breed of the NHSRA, NHSRA Junior Division, National High School Finals Rodeo and National Junior High Finals Rodeo, to earn an award as the top horse in the state or province in which they compete.

Nominated horses must also be registered with AQHA. Two horses, one from boys’ events and one from girls’ events, will earn the award based on points won at their state or provincial finals rodeos. The contestants who ride the winning horses will earn $250 college scholarships and other awards.

State/province horse of the year winners are then eligible for the national horse of the year awards if that horse is competed on at the 2013 National High School Finals Rodeo at the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs, Wyoming, or the 2013 National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Gallup, New Mexico. The winners at the national level – based on points earned at the NHSFR or NJHFR – will receive $1,000 college scholarships and other awards. The reserve champions on both the boys’ and girls’ sides will earn $500 scholarships and other awards.

Western Horseman magazine has partnered with NHSRA and AQHA to provide $50,000 in college scholarships that are awarded through the horse of the year program at the state and national levels.

“The American Quarter Horse Association has always been proud of our versatile horse and the members who support this great animal’s participation in equestrian activities,” said AQHA Director of Youth Development Todd Branson. “From racing, to the show arena, in recreation and in the sport of rodeo, we value his ability to be a reliable team member.

“Most importantly, AQHA strives to support organizations that work to develop unique opportunities for youth, and in the sport of rodeo, NHSRA is outstanding,” Branson added. ”We are proud to support the sport of rodeo and NHSRA with the continuation of the horse of the year program. We believe the valuable awards and scholarships these youth earn on top of American Quarter Horses will make a positive impact on the future of the horse industry.”

The program is a win-win for both associations, as well as members. NHSRA members can still join the American Quarter Horse Youth Association and be eligible for the horse of the year program in 2012-13. By joining, they’ll also have the opportunity to compete in the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, which is conducted each August in Oklahoma City. AQHYA members are also eligible to apply for $137,000 in scholarships through the American Quarter Horse Foundation given annually. 

One key difference in 2012-13 is that NHSRA contestants don’t need to be related to the horse’s owner to nominate the horse they ride for the award. As long as the NHSRA member has a current AQHYA membership and the registered American Quarter Horse’s listed owner is a current AQHA member in good standing, he or she can be nominated for the award.

“We’re thrilled to extend our long partnership with AQHA,” said NHSRA Executive Director James Higginbotham. “This program allows us to recognize the phenomenal horses that contribute to our members’ success in the arena. I’m constantly amazed at the quality of the horses our members are riding these days. I’ve been around high school rodeo for more than 25 years, and it seems like the talent level of the horses improves every year. The race for this award is as competitive as it has ever been.”

Nomination forms for the award are available online at www.nhsra.com, and must be received in the NHSRA office no later than March 1. No late nominations will be accepted. To learn more, visit www.nhsra.com.

Join or renew your AQHYA membership today! Annual AQHYA memberships are only $15 or purchase a youth life membership, which is good through the youth’s 18th year, for a one-time fee of $50.

The 2012 NHSRA-AQHA Horse of the Year winners were: Miss N Twist, ridden by California’s Jordan Sparrowk, who finished fourth in boys cutting, and VF Red An Gold, ridden by New Mexico’s Leia Pluemer, who was the 2012 NHSFR pole bending national champion at the NHSFR. The NJHFR winners were HR Wily Gold Rush, ridden by Oklahoma’s Layton Little in multiple events, and Continental Sun Dust, ridden by Washington’s Scout Yochum, who finished fifth in girls breakaway roping.