August 6, 2012
By Lizzy KoonsThe American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHYA Region 5 Director Lizzy Koons of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, and Majorly Addicted
“From backyard band to rock star, from county fair to Congress these are my roots, this is our future.”
My name is Lizzy Koons, I'm from Fairfield, Pennsylvania, and I am one of the 2012 AQHYA Region 5 directors. The quote above was the first sentence of the speech I gave when running for a Region 5 director position. The quote completely sums up my horseback riding and showing career.
As an AQHYA director, we have many responsibilities, but it is also an experience unlike any other. At the Bank of America Youth Excellence Seminar in June in Amarillo, AQHA’s hometown, each region elects its directors for the year. A maximum of three directors are elected from each region, making a maximum total of 30 directors.
The first day I got to the Ford Youth World grounds, I walked by the trophy display located near the show office. When I stopped and looked at the trophies for a second, it all became real. It is here that youth from around the world participate in hopes of one day taking one of those trophies home.
The best part about the Ford Youth World is that when you’re here, you are not just one single person – you are a part of one big organization. The competition gets set aside when you see those friendly faces walking around the decorated stalls and all the kids cheering during the parade of teams. At this one show, we are more than just competitors we come together as the American Quarter Horse Youth Association.
Being here at the Ford Youth World is an amazing experience. I did not start out in this Association, so being at this show is amazing. When I was 9 years old trotting around on my little pony at the 4-H fair, I never would have thought that I would be where I am today. Showing weekend after weekend at AQHA shows, having friends from all around the country, working with The American Quarter Horse Journal staff, being an AQHYA Regional Director! This is all so amazing, and I am blessed to have such a great opportunity, but especially blessed to be a part of such an amazing Association.
At the age of 7, I began taking riding lessons at a local stable. My first pony was a crazy Shetland that I showed at local shows and county fairs. I learned everything I knew about horses from completing AQHA’s Junior Master Horseman books. It was while completing those lessons that I learned more about the American Quarter Horse, and my interest for the breed grew. I started watching AQHA horse shows, reading The American Quarter Horse Journal, and exploring the AQHA website.
I later bought my first Quarter Horse and started showing at AQHA shows, and got more involved in the Association. I have met many of my best friends through the Association, and I have gone from showing at those county fairs to now showing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. I have become an AQHYA rock star.
As a director, I am responsible for representing my region to the national organization. The regional directors are responsible for organizing special activities, such as regional conferences and socials at shows. We are also responsible for writing a regional report every month to keep the national organization aware of what is going on within our regional. There is a lot of work included in being a regional director, but you are offered experiences that you would never get anywhere else.
As directors we are also offered many opportunities to travel and meet people from all over the country. We are offered the opportunity to be here, at the Ford Youth World, to help in the different events and hand out the awards. We also get the opportunity to speak to different organizations, such as 4-H, about AQHA and what it has to offer. Though I have only been a director for a little over a month now, I can confidently say that being an AQHYA director is an amazing experience and I encourage all to pursue it.
As I said, one of the great opportunities we get as directors is to attend the Ford Youth World. Some may be showing, some coming to watch and others here to help. I have been handing out awards to our class winners, helping with the judging contest and anything else that Courtney Martin, the youth director, needs. In the few days I have been here, I have already made friendships and memories that I will carry with myself throughout life.
I want to encourage the youth who have a love for the American Quarter Horse, but may be too afraid or not know how to become a member of AQHYA. I was once in your shoes and here I am today, Lizzy Koons, AQHYA Region 5 director.