Blog: The AQHYA National Racing Experience

A participant in the AQHYA National Racing Experience reflects back on a memorable time at Prairie Meadows.

Shiloh Morales at the AQHYA National Racing Experience.

October 15-19 were the days that I participated in the AQHYA National Youth Racing Experience during the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Those days shaped the way I see the horse racing industry, and now I plan to participate in it whether it’s just watching, bidding or buying and racing horses.

During the days that I was at the barns with trainers John and Kathy Hammes, I helped them out with many of their everyday chores, from wrapping legs to brushing horses as well as hot-walking them. Every day I learned something new. For instance, I learned how much horses are supposed be fed, how and what can treat a sore leg and what each horse’s daily routine was. While I was there I also got to meet Russell Harris, who was a fellow horse trainer sharing the barn. Even though he wasn't my trainer, he was always around to explain and show me new things about the industry and what kept him around racehorses for so long.

If we weren't in the barn then we were at the racetrack's conference and meeting room area introducing ourselves and explaining what we would do with our trainers. On the first day, after we got back from being with the trainers, we took a tour of the veterinary school at Iowa State University. It was a very big school and medical facility. The vet who showed us around the place took us to everywhere, from the surgery room to the recovery area. He explained what they did, why they did it and how they would do it. While on the tour we got to meet college students studying at the facility, highly ranked vets and horse shoers.

By 6:00 p.m. we would be off to the track to watch the races. I remember the last night at the track when Russell Harris won races back-to-back with Stoli Angel and Jessa Little Rusty. My AQHYA partner, Amber Battles, and I got to come out for the winner’s circle photo with both horses and our trainers. Before that night was over, our supervisors Robin Alden and Wendy Davis presented the awards, including $6,000 in scholarships to the most deserving youth. Omar Lorta, the only male participant, was chosen for the sportsmanship award for having to put up with 11 girls all at once. Ann Elizabeth Tebow was chosen for the $3,000 scholarship, Codi Uecker for the $2,000 scholarship and Elizabeth Seely for the $1,000 scholarship. Even though I wasn't chosen to receive any of the monetary awards, I was still very grateful that I was able to participate in such a life-changing experience with 11 other people that I grew so close with within a few days of meeting each other.

I'd like to thank Robin Alden and Wendy Davis for choosing me to live an experience I never thought possible. I'd also like to recognize Alatina Babin, Ali Fratessa, Amber Battles, Ann Elizabeth Tebow, Cheyene Isles, Codi Uecker, Elizabeth Seely, Katherine Meyer, Maura Hines, Megan D'Andrea, and Omar Lorta because they were the 11 other participants that were selected throughout the U.S. And last but not least, I'd like to thank Val Clark, executive director of the TQHA, for nominating me because if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have had the chance to go.

Once again…THANK YOU!!!

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