AzQHA Scholarship Program Awards Over $15,000 at the Fall Championship

AzQHA’s ASCENT scholarship program encourages youth membership and rewards excellence.

From the Arizona Quarter Horse Association

Gabriella Venezia earned the Future Novice Horsemanship scholarship. Scroll down to see more scholarship winners. (Credit: courtesy of Kristen Spinning)

The Arizona Quarter Horse Association continues its commitment to assisting youth members with their higher education needs. The ASCENT program awarded $15,400 in scholarships to AzQHYA members through two events held during the Arizona Fall Championship on Sunday, Sept 23rd.

The 2018 AzQHA Interscholastic Scholarship Show offered an equestrian team competition for Arizona Youth where scholarship money was awarded to eligible winners.  Four teams, Desert Heat, Arizona Sliders, Team Untamed and 4 Peaks Equestrians competed in this year’s event. Riders showed in 6 divisions of Horsemanship and 3 Reining classes. The first place exhibitor in each class was awarded $500 in scholarship funds while second and third place received $300 and $200 respectively. In order to qualify for these awards, youth members must have shown at two of the three AzQHA No Bling Shows held during the year.  Some of the 2018 recipients also competed last year and were able to add money to their scholarship accounts.  Scholarship money earned by exhibitors is kept in a restricted account by the AzQHA until they graduate from high school. Scholarships are then paid directly to the college, trade school or university that the student attends. Over time, youth members can accumulate a significant amount for their educational goals.

Youth teams such as IEA, YEDA, USTPC are organizations that are open to public school, private school and barn teams for grades 6-12. These youth equestrian programs provide a wonderful entry point for kids to get into riding and showing horses. They can go to a qualified trainer in their area, take lessons and compete at shows without owning a horse. They compete at several shows within their state every year. Horses are provided at these competitions free of charge by volunteers and are drawn by exhibitors for each class. Involving the teams in the scholarship show is a perfect vehicle for AzQHA to reach out to a broader community. Interested individuals can contact the team coaches  listed on for additional information. 

At the conclusion of Sunday’s competition the coaches were unanimous in their enthusiasm for the Scholarship Show and the opportunity to have it hosted at the Fall Championship. They agree that the program has initiated a lot of people into the Quarter Horse industry. One of the coaches commented that the kids enjoy having a place where they belong and can work on their athletic skills while simultaneously furthering their academic pursuits. The scholarship money is the big sell to the families.  Team members can reap other educational rewards as well. Arizona teams have had heavy recruiting from the NCEA. Many collegiate equestrian teams offer scholarship money and the students have a familiar community to assist in bridging that transition into college life.

This year’s Scholarship Show recipients were:

Future Novice Horsemanship

1st: Gabriella Venezia, 2nd: Aubree Leyva 

(pictured above)

JV Beginner Horsemanship

1st: Maggie Raley, 2nd: Natalie Vichich

JV Novice Horsemanship

1st: Lauren Blumer, 2nd: Micaela Blazek

Future Intermediate Horsemanship

1st:  Olivia Huls, 2nd: Kennedy Buchanan, 3rd: Olivia Felderhoff

Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship

1st: Kaci Rodriguez, 2nd: Alex Krebs, 3rd: Daniella Stephenson

Varsity Open Horsemanship

1st: Madyson Buchanon, 2nd: Casmira Millan, 3rd: Anthony Luna

Varsity Open Reining

1st: Anthony Luna, 2nd: Madyson Buchanon, 3rd: Casmira Millan

Varsity Intermediate Reining

1st: Karina Kimery, 2nd: Kaci Rodriguez, 3rd: Alex Krebs

Future Intermediate Reining

1st: Olivia Huls, 2nd: Kennedy Buchanan, 3rd: Olivia Felderhoff

(pictured above)

The other component of the ASCENT program is merit-based. Seven $1,000 scholarships were awarded based on interviews conducted at the AZFC. Applicants had to answer a series of questions in front of a panel. Questions probed their current and future involvement in the equine industry, career goals, and how they have participated in community service and outreach to promote the Quarter Horse industry. Scholarship winners were Bianca Juravlea, Micaela Blazek, Catherine Miller, Casimira Millan, Kaylee Hamm, Danielle Stephenson, Alexis Tretschok 

AzQHA’s innovative ASCENT scholarship program was designed to encourage youth membership and reward excellence. The goals of the outreach initiative are certainly being met, as membership, youth showing and Youth team participation have grown over the past year. AzQHA is determined to continue growing the program in the coming years.

Do you have news to share from your AQHA affiliate? Send it to Tara Matsler at