2016 Merial AQHA Region Six Championships: July 15

Entries were up 10-12 percent at the 2016 Merial AQHA Region Six Championships.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

When 5-year-old Casey Bennett from Woodbury, Connecticut, created a “Me” bag for school, the Quarter Horse Journal was a part of it. “She had to pack a bag with her favorite toy, her favorite book and her favorite book. The Journal was her favorite book,” said her mom, Britt Heggland of Hollow Hill Farm. (Journal Photo)

She may only be 5, but Casey Bennett from Woodbury, Connecticut, is already committed to Quarter Horses. Her Kindergarten teacher asked each student to bring a “Me” bag to school. The “Me” bag had to include the child’s favorite music, toy and book.

Casey chose The American Quarter Horse Journal as her favorite book.

“She loves to pick out stallions in the Journal,” said her mom, Britt Heggland of Hollow Hill Farm.

At the 2016 Merial AQHA Region Six Championships, Casey rode Diva La Revolution in the leadline class and her brother, Ryan Bennett, rode the same horse in the Small-Fry events.

“They both just love to ride,” Britt said.

It’s no secret that youth like Casey are important for the future of the horse industry. And AQHA Director and Professional Horsewoman Gretchen Mathes of Powder Brook Stables in Harwinton, Connecticut, is dedicated to providing opportunities for youth in Region 6. That’s why she is re-establishing the Region 6 Willard Rhodes Scholarship. Established several years ago through the American Quarter Horse Foundation, the scholarship must reach $100,000 in funding before awards can be made.

Nearly $52,000 has already been donated to the scholarship fund and Gretchen has made it her mission to achieve full funding for the scholarship in one to two years.

“Our whole business is based on kids,” she said. “They give to us, and funding this scholarship is our way to give back to them. If everyone contributes to the effort, we can easily reach our goal.”

Individuals interested in donating to the Williard Rhodes Region 6 Scholarship must “earmark” their donation for the scholarship fund. Donations can be made directly to the Foundation, which is a 501 (c)(3), meaning the donations are tax deductible.

Amateur riders are equally excited about the annual regional championship show.

“The show has a feeling of prestige, there are a lot of nice horses that come here and we give away good prizes,” said Cory Welch, Region 6 vice president.

Held in conjunction with the Region 6 Super-Six split/combined show, the Merial AQHA Region Six Championships tallied more than 1,200 entries after the first day of competition on July 15.

“We believe entries are up 10-12 percent over last year,” said Marge Tanner, the second vice president for Region 6, “our entries going into this week were the same number as where we ended last year. I believe entries will continue to increase through Sunday.”

Region 6 encompasses AQHA members from Connecticut north through New England, Quebec and the Maritimes. Exhibitors eagerly look forward to this event, the largest in New England.