Igniting the Spark of Love for Horses

Giving back by mentoring local equine enthusiasts and leading them towards a love of American Quarter Horses because my roots run deep.

The American Quarter Horse Youth Association

Clara and her mentees, Izzy and Elly Duncan. Photo Credit: Clara Johnson

What is the very first memory you remember sharing with a horse or pony? Try to think back to a moment you actually remember – not just that adorable baby picture of you being propped up on some random horse.

After racking my brain I’ve finally settled on my very first memory. It’s with my 20-year-old pony, Rose. “Rose” was half Quarter Horse and half mustang. I was probably about 4- or 5-years old, it was the middle of the hot Iowa summer and I was giving her a bath. Truth be told, this was as much of a bath for me as it was for her! Anyway, I started doodling in the thick, creamy suds that had formed on her side. At that point, my mom came over and showed me how to write my name in the suds on Rose’s side. Poor old pony. I was out there practicing writing and rewriting my name ‘til my hands were so pruney. When I think about it, all of my best experiences involve horses. As I continue my journey through life, I want to show other kids how much a horse can impact their lives just like horses have done for me.

I suppose that would explain why I’m an AQHYA Region 3 director and the current president of the Iowa Quarter Horse Youth Association. I also share my love of horses by giving riding lessons to two kids in my local 4-H horse project. I have a lifelong equestrian journey in 4-H, so it seems only right to close the circle. The turn-arounds I’ve witnessed by helping these two kids are really heartwarming. I’m not claiming I know how to train horses, but I want to be a mentor to these kids and help them experience the bond between horse and rider.

Horses have better equipped me for the real world more so than any class I have taken. It’s a bit funny and exciting to watch these young riders start to learn many of the life lessons gained from being involved with horses. I am most thrilled about their recent involvement with the Iowa Quarter Horse Youth Association. They both tagged along with me to our annual meeting in January and became members! This is a perfect example of how youth don’t have to have a $40,000 horse or a $20,000 saddle to be involved with this association. The youth association wants to have fun and what better way to have fun than by getting every single one of your friends involved? I know this is just the spark my mentees need before their AQHYA internal flame spreads like wildfire. AQHYA is the perfect place to grow this love.