YHD Behind the Scenes - Elizabeth Wedlake & Piper

Elizabeth and her filly, Piper, are participating in the 2017 Young Horse Development Program.

Elizabeth and Piper proudly showing off their first first-place ribbon! Photo Credit: Elizabeth Wedlake

Hello, my name is Elizabeth Wedlake, and I am currently participating in the 2016-17 AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program with my filly, Miss To Tuf For Guns, or “Piper,” as I like to call her.

I stumbled upon this program while exploring the AQHA website. I immediately talked to my parents about it, and they knew it was right up my alley. I sent in my application and marked my calendar for the day when they would announce the accepted applicants. When I received my acceptance letter, I cried... like a baby. I immediately got in touch with my assigned breeder to set up a pick up date.

On November 6, 2016, I received a stocky bay filly from AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Mark Freeman of Guymon, Oklahoma. Mr. Freeman explained Piper’s bloodlines to me and showed my family and me around his impressive ranch. Since meeting him, we talk regularly and I give him updates on the filly he so generously donated to me.

Piper and I have made leaps and bounds together. However, in the beginning, it was very difficult to catch her. Being previously untouched and semi-wild, this was a great challenge for me; however, she eventually realized that I was not there to hurt her, and my only intention was to take care of her. Now we are a great team; reflecting each other in every way. We have attended two shows thus far and have received countless compliments on our teamwork. Our hard work definitely showed off when we won our first first-place ribbon in yearling in-hand trail. The pride I felt was immeasurable. Winning with a young horse that you've trained yourself is very fulfilling.

Teaching a young horse has shown me that everything you do has a consequence. I have learned that they truly are sponges; they soak up everything you teach them and remember everything you do. Upon realizing this, I am mindful of my actions when around her, reward her every effort and always end on a good note. I have grown as a horsewoman through this program, and it has taught me life skills that I can use in and out of the barn. Never in a million years did I think that such a young animal could have such an impact on my life.

This program has given me the opportunity to make new friends, learn the responsibilities and challenges of caring for a young horse and grow in the horse community. I would highly recommend this program to any young horseman or -woman interested in growing their knowledge and understanding of horses.