My Road to the First Youth Activities Scholarship

My Road to the First Youth Activities Scholarship

The first recipient of the new American Quarter Horse Foundation scholarship challenges other youth members to apply.

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By Megan Newlon

Aging out. Two words AQHYA members attempt to dissolve in the back of their minds. However, when the time comes, endless questions seem to surface. Will you continue to show? What are your plans? Are you selling your horse? Soon we’re rattling off answers to these daunting questions as time seeps out of our hands and, eventually, we hear our name over the speakers one final time at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

One of the most bittersweet moments rounding out my youth journey occurred just weeks ago at that show where I was selected to receive the first American Quarter Horse Foundation Youth Activities Scholarship.

The scholarship was developed for youth members competing at the Ford Youth World in their final year of eligibility and focuses on youth involvement in AQHYA and the equine industry. Luckily for me, American Quarter Horses have always had a home on my family’s farm in Southwest Kansas, thanks to my mom.

Little did she know, she fueled the fire of a wild journey with no end in sight. The adventure began with junior rodeos as soon as I could ride until I began showing the all-around when I was 7. Horses and years passed by and soon I was entering my sophomore year of high school when I lost my all-around horse to liver cancer. Meanwhile, I pulled out a pasture ornament to rodeo on while searching for a new show horse.

A few months later, my trainer, Jay Henson, had a horse for me to try. I swung a leg over and before I knew it, I was hanging on and working a cow! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was hooked just as fast as he dialed into that creature. I purchased Langtrees CD, and he has been my partner ever since. Jay and Langtrees CD continue to teach me the ropes of Versatility Ranch Horse.

Despite growing older, my passion for American Quarter Horses and Versatility Ranch Horse has only increased exponentially as I’m working to grow interest in the event. I’m an agricultural communications and animal science sophomore at Oklahoma State University, where I’m developing a ranch horse team for students to showcase their skills collegiately. Additionally, I serve on the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association’s board of directors as the secretary and associate editor of the organization’s magazine, The Rundown. After graduation, I plan to work in marketing, communications or youth development for an equine performance association.

When my youth adviser, Bobbie Hinds, sent me the link to this scholarship, knowing it was my final Ford Youth World, I knew I had to apply. I’m grateful for the passionate people behind the scenes of this scholarship and so excited for AQHYA members to have this opportunity – it is such an honor to be the first recipient. Before aging out, I would like to challenge youth to take advantage of opportunities, try a new event, thank your horse and apply for the Youth Activities Scholarship!

Megan Newon received the first Youth Activities Scholarship at the 2020 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show
Megan Newon, second from the right, received the first Youth Activities Scholarship at the 2020 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.

Youth Activities Scholarship and the American Quarter Horse Foundation

With the help of generous donors, the American Quarter Horse Foundation has created a legacy of support for youth who develop into future leaders and impact our industry. Since its inception in 1976, the American Quarter Horse Foundation scholarship fund has made over 1,350 dreams come true by providing over $7.6 million in financial assistance to youth pursing higher education.

The Youth Activities Scholarship, specifically, is awarded to an eligible AQHYA member competing at the Ford Youth World.

  • AQHYA member must be in good standing and in his or her last year of youth eligibility; AND

  • Compete in at least one Level 3 or Level 2 championship class OR compete in a designated AQHYA competition at the 2020 Ford Youth World; AND

  • Submit a completed application with support material by July 1.

Learn more about the Youth Activities Scholarship or how to donate to and support the scholarship program