Life’s Greatest Moments Happen When We are Challenged

Life’s Greatest Moments Happen When We are Challenged

AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines shares highlights from the Ford Youth World and recent AQHA Executive Committee meeting.
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By AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines

Life’s greatest moments tend to occur when we stretch ourselves way out of our comfort zone. That was the case at the 2017 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City. Nearly 800 young exhibitors from 42 states, two Canadian provinces, Costa Rica and Luxembourg qualified and participated at the Ford Youth World. You had to be there to appreciate the intensity on their faces, the frayed nerves and churning gut that come with the investment of countless hours of work, effort and energy driving them all to improvement.

It’s also worth mentioning the number of adults at the show as youth advisers, helping these young people grow. I want to say thank you to all of those adult leaders who make this journey possible for so many of our youth. I particularly want to recognize a group of people who donated at least six hours of professional coaching in the covered outdoor arena. Margaret Duflock of California and Brazos Valley Equine Hospital of Stephenville, Texas, donated cattle for practice sessions, and some of the very best in our working cow horse world (Todd Crawford, Sam and Pam Rose, Lee Keaton, Robert Smith, Darren Miller and Kim Lindsey) were on hand to teach these young people the art of the cow horse.

The members of AQHYA are our future, and I would like to challenge the entire organization to think about the ways we can get more young people involved in our Quarter Horse world. We need to think broadly about how we can better use our American Quarter Horse Foundation as a fuel source for developing new young leaders for our industry.

What a privilege it has been to see Team AQHA run this event and the first-class work that our judges, scribes, stewards and ring crew did to put on this major event.

You can read and watch the Journal’s coverage of the Ford Youth World at

Executive Committee Actions from July Meeting
The AQHA Executive Committee met July 24-26 in Amarillo. Here are highlights from the meeting.

  • Evaluated a proposal for reviewing the AQHA Racing Challenge program model and sent it to the Challenge Championship Task Force for further study.
  • Approved the AQHA Affiliate Show Task Force and tasked it with developing a system and encouraging affiliates to host/approve introductory or single-judged shows. Task force members include Larry Jaynes, Randy Ratliff, Mary Hannagan, Michelle Forness, Robin Barrow and Chris Darnell. The task force will make final recommendations and a report at the 2018 convention.
  • Approved a task force as a recommendation from the AQHA World Show Subcommittee to evaluate alternative methods for building purses at the World Show. A pilot project has been proposed involving halter horses. Task force members include Robin Frid, Anne Prince, David Miller, Kelly McDowall, Kevin Dukes, Whitney Lagace and Ross Roark. We also held a halter town hall meeting at the Ford Youth World to get input from halter exhibitors and trainers on the potential changes.
  • Created the AQHA Leveling Review Task Force, which includes Chairwoman Lori Bucholz, Debby Brehm, Heidi Lane, Liz Knabenshue, Michelle Forness and Carol Whittaker.
  • Approved an AQHA Professional Horsemen's Grievance Committee structure
  • Approved an International Best Remuda Award
  • Approved an international education marketplace grant application concept. More will be communicated in the future as to how this will work for international affiliates.
  • Approved discontinuation of the AQHA Incentive Fund and a phase out of award payment through 2020.