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Youth in Action: It Takes a Village

Walk-trot exhibitor Lily Richardson of Washington is learning life lessons through showing and riding horses.

By Tara Matsler
The American Quarter Horse Journal
March 3, 2014

Lily Richardson competes at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship with Chips Heart

Lily Richardson competes at the 2013 AQHA Region One Championship in Monroe, Washington, with Chips Heart. (Credit: Journal)

Horse showing is not all gold and glory. 

It includes hoisting manure forks, wading through wash racks and staining fingers in the pursuit of a polished silver saddle – and that’s just the short list. The truth is, what goes on before and after a sparkling show-ring performance isn’t all that glamorous.

Hard work and responsibility are lessons 10-year-old Lily Richardson learns day in and day out as an avid young horsewoman, competing in both western and English disciplines. 

Recently crowned the 2013 youth walk-trot year-end champion by both the Washington State Quarter Horse Association and Mountain States Quarter Horse Alliance, Lily strives in and out of the show pen. 

This AQHYA member hails from Duvall, Washington. And in the show pen, Lily teams up with Chips Heart, a 2002 chestnut mare by Chips Hot Chocolate and out of Zippos Queen O Heart by American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame sire Zippo Pine Bar.

It has been more than five years since Lily first stepped into the show pen, and along the way, she’s earned ribbons, prizes and titles. Her local newspaper, The Woodinville Weekly, recognized Lily for her achievements in and out of the arena.

“The biggest ‘win’ for (Lily) has been the positive lifestyle that comes with the horse world,” the newspaper wrote. “Lily has a tremendous amount of pride and ownership over her accomplishments, but it’s hard work, too. She has learned how to care for her horse, a big responsibility for a young girl. The disciplines that come from learning to care for an animal this size are great.”

Lily rides with AQHA Professional Horsewoman Paige Stroud, who is based out of Cascade Meadows Equestrian Center in Monroe, Washington.

“Much of (Lily’s) time is dedicated to riding and training, but the horse world is socially and community minded, too,” The Woodinville Weekly continued. “The girls at her barn, Cascade Meadows, along with her trainer, Paige Stroud, have group ride days and social activities. 

“They are part of the (WSQHA) youth club where the kids meet several times a year throughout the state, hold fundraisers, take part in the mascot program for education, participate in charitable giving and support each other through friendship and sportsmanship.”

"I have really enjoyed working with Lily these past several years and watching her grow in so many ways,” Paige told The Woodinville Weekly. “(Lily) is a kind, sweet and funny little girl with this competitive side to her the moment she enters the show ring! Then, it’s serious business and she gives it her all every time. Win, or no win, she has great sportsmanship and respect for her fellow competitors. She is always quick to congratulate the other exhibitors and give her horse a loving pat. 

“Lily is another example of a child learning life lessons through horses. AQHA and WSQHA have so much to offer in terms of being part of that village that kids need to succeed."

Lily’s tale is one echoed by many AQHYA members: Aside from horses, Lily loves art and skiing. But horses are Lily’s true focus and passion. The 10-year-old already has her heart set on earning the watchful gaze of top college equestrian team scouts, like older AQHYA members from Washington have done. 

Making it to that level of competition, representing a Division I school on the hunt for a collegiate national championship, takes a full dose of determination. From the looks of it, WSQHA and AQHYA are priming Lily for the ride of her life.

Read The Woodinville Weekly’s feature on Lily Richardson at www.nwnews.com

Because opportunities abound for horse-interested kids, the AQHYA blog, Youth in Action, captures those adventures. Learn more about the endless prospects for young horsemen through AQHYA at www.aqha.com/youth-in-action.