A Note From Your AQHA President

Metrically Challenged

AQHA President Sandy Arledge shares highlights from her latest adventure to the Land Down Under for the 2016 American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia.

American Quarter Horse Association

Sandy shares highlights from her latest adventure to the Land Down Under.

Having just returned from the Land Down Under, I can honestly say that I am metrically challenged. Kilometers? Celsius? Kilos? It’s an unfamiliar language. While I know the difference, and the conversions, it’s just hard to get my head around! 

Why was I in Australia, you ask? I was privileged to attend the 20th American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup, which was held June 23 - July 3 in Tamworth, New South Wales, and hosted by the Australian Quarter Horse Association. Thirteen nations sent teams of five to Tamworth to compete in an Olympic-style equine event. 

Exhibitors and The American Quarter Horse Journal covered this year’s Youth World Cup, and you can read the coverage and exhibitors’ blogs at www.aqha.com/ywc. The 2018 Youth World Cup is slated to be held in College Station, Texas. And, if you are able to go, I would highly suggest the trip, because the camaraderie and competition of the nations truly shows the future is bright for our industry!

(In Australia with Patti Carter, AQHA director of shows and professional horsemen)

It’s a long way to NSW, even from the West Coast of the United States. Travel time for me, from leaving the house to getting to the hotel, was about 30 hours. Because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, it is also a day later there. Since I had to be there for opening ceremonies on June 23, I had to leave on June 21 to arrive on the appointed day. Coming home, I left at 6:30 a.m. on July 4, and arrived back in San Diego at noon on July 4! 

Back to the language of metrics. First of all, I was the designated driver. Now, why was that, you might wonder? You may not know that Aussies drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. I am always willing to try new challenges, so I was the driver. Aside from trying to get in on the left side of the car from time to time, and forgetting which way to look first, I did pretty well! We did have the cleanest windshields in Tamworth, as the windshield wipers and the turn-signal lever are on opposite sides of the steering column than ours are.   

I have to say that it feels pretty weird for the first few days, especially trying to compute how fast 100 km is MPH! I am happy to report that the rental car was returned intact. 

In addition to that, while we in the Northern Hemisphere are sweltering through summer, the Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of its winter and it was -2 or -3 degrees every morning we were there. That was COLD. Not as cold as you might think, though, as the Australians measure their temperatures in Celsius, not Fahrenheit, as we do. Even so, -2 C is about the equivalent of about 28 degrees F. Thankfully, the show was held at a new and beautiful indoor facility, so the competitors weren’t in the wind.

The schedule allowed for a couple of days to explore the area around Tamworth, a city of about 6,000 people. You may not know that while Australia is a country about the size of the United States, its population of more than 25 million is less than the more than the 38 million of California. It’s a very rural country with large ranches and agricultural activities. It is a beautiful country with many species of wild animals and birds found only in Australia.

(This map illustrates the size of Australia compared to the size of the United States.)

We visited a quaint town called Nundle, about 45 minutes from Tamworth. Nundle is famous for its wool factory and has carding and spinning machines that are about 100 years old. Of course, we all bought wool socks that kept our feet toasty.

We also visited the Tamworth Marsupial Park, where there are exhibits of kangaroos and birds, which are native to Australia. Later, we visited the animal park in Gunnadah, NSW, about an hour closer to Queensland. There, we were able to get up close and personal with koalas, kangaroos, dingos, wombats and some beautiful and unusual birds. There are so many animals that are unique to Australia, and seeing them in close proximity was a treat to us all. 

(A koala at the Tamworth Marsupial Park)

The Australian Quarter Horse Association went all out to put on a terrific show, from supplying an outstanding group of horses for the teams’ competitions, to having great awards and fun programs for the exhibitors and their families.

(Photo of the Youth World Cup Opening Ceremonies courtesy of Larri Jo Starkey)

This event may not be the biggest or splashiest of the events that we attend, but it warms my heart to see how kids from so many foreign countries, speaking so many different languages, can come together as strangers and in 10 days be best of friends, even in the face of fierce competition and national pride.

It proves to me that we CAN all get along, if we just try!

 Until next time!