On the International Trail

Meet the Trainers

Meet the talented University of Findlay students conducting some of the 2014 AQHA international horsemanship camps.

Each year, AQHA selects four universities to conduct the international horsemanship camps in Europe. Faculty and students from the University of Findlay, Colorado State University, Sam Houston State University and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls have been serving as the clinicians for the summer 2014 camps.

The University of Findlay, located in Findlay, Ohio, has one of the most prestigious equestrian studies programs in the nation. The university has participated in the AQHA international horsemanship camp program since 2007. AQHA Professional Horseman Arthur O'Brien, instructor of western riding at the University of Findlay, has brought several groups of students overseas each summer. This year, Arthur was unable to travel to Europe, so instead he sent two of the best graduate students of the university to lead the group.

After each college has been notified of being selected for the program, the universities are responsible for choosing the most capable students to represent their equine programs overseas. Several students from the University of Findlay applied this year.  The seven students with the highest grade point averages were invited to give a presentation, followed by questions from a five-panel board. From this, three students and an alternate were selected and began preparing for the trip.

Read on to learn more about the students who “passed the test” and who have had the opportunity to teach AQHA members all over Europe how to become better riders and horsemen.

    • Spencer Zimmerman was raised on a small farm in Newport, Pennsylvania. His interest in horses developed from a young age when he began riding his family’s Arabians. Attending the University of Findlay allowed Spencer to develop many training techniques and horsemanship skills by riding a variety of horses. He competed on the University’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team, where he helped the team claim two national championship titles, as well as one reserve national championship. According to Spencer, “My four years at Findlay helped me develop a passion for all-around horses, especially trail and western riding. During the summer following my junior year, I took an internship with AQHA world champion Leonard Lee Berryhill of Talala, Oklahoma. That summer, he gave me the opportunity to show at an AQHA show for the first time. I have been hooked ever since!” Spencer graduated in May with his master’s in business administration. He plans to become a college riding instructor or work in the animal health industry.
    • Kim Deane grew up on a horse farm in Bernardston, Massachusetts. She began riding as soon as she could hold her head up on her pony, "Coco." She showed in 4-H and open shows on the East Coast. Her show career in AQHA began at age 16 by participating in events such as trail, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle and horsemanship. This eventually led her to a third-place finish in hunt seat equitation at the 2008 All American Quarter Horse Congress. Kim also rode on Findlay’s IHSA equestrian team, where she received national championship honors in advanced horsemanship in 2009. In the 2011-2012 competition season, she served as president of the university’s western team. In 2012, she was reserve in the Clark Bradley Pleasure Futurity, an excellent way to finish up her senior year at the university. In May 2014, Kim graduated with her master’s degree in business administration. Following this trip, she plans to continue a career in the equine industry.
    • Tia Beasley grew up in the small town of Loogootee, Indiana. She started riding at the age of 2, and as a youth showed in 4-H and open shows. She started at the University of Findlay in 2010, where she greatly enjoyed colt-starting and developing her riding and training skills in both reining and cutting. During her time at Findlay, she was elected president of the ranch horse team, in which the team shows in ranch horse pleasure, trail, reining and working cow horse. Tia graduated in May with her bachelor’s degree in western equestrian studies and equine business management. She currently works for Stone Ridge Equine Care in Evansville, Indiana, as a veterinary technician. Tia wants to the thank the University of Findlay and AQHA for the wonderful opportunities they have provided, and she is excited to further her career in the horse industry.
    • Rachel Beerbower of Hicksville, Ohio, began taking riding lessons at age 6 and started showing in 4-H and open shows three years later. At age 8, she decided she wanted to attend the University of Findlay. Following this dream, she started at Findlay in 2010 to major in equine training and equine business management. She was a member of the university’s ranch horse team and served as secretary during her senior year. Rachel will begin her first year of graduate school at Findlay in the fall and will serve as the graduate intern. Following the completion of her master’s degree, she hopes to work for an equine breeding facility or for a breed association or sport organization like AQHA or the National Reining Horse Association. Rachel would like to thank AQHA and Findlay for this great opportunity. “I think the international horsemanship camps have taught me just as much as those who ride in them. It’s a great experience, and I have loved helping and meeting a lot of people and horses. Thank you!”
    • Christina Brantner, the youngest member of the Findlay group, is from Olympia, Washington. She started taking riding lessons at age 10, and since then, she has competed in a multitude of disciplines with several different breeds including saddleseat, three-day eventing and extreme mountain trail. Beginning to ride at the University of Findlay’s English farm her freshman year, Christina quickly transitioned to riding at the western barn after taking part in the colt-starting course. Christina will enter her senior year this fall to finish her bachelor’s degree in equestrian studies and equine business management. She has been an active competitor on both Findlay’s English and western IHSA teams, showing in horsemanship, hunt seat equitation and equitation over fences. Following graduation next May, she hopes to start a career training in the all-around or working hunter industries.

The purpose of the AQHA international horsemanship camps is to foster an environment in which people around the world can learn more about horsemanship and horse training, while gaining more knowledge and appreciation of the American Quarter Horse breed. The university students, staff and AQHA international intern all play important roles in facilitating, conducting and networking during the camps each summer.

Thank you for following along on our journey! Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s European adventure as we head to conduct a horsemanship camp in the United Kingdom!