YHD: Igniting Passion
Samantha Pratt attributes the Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program to growing her passion for American Quarter Horses.
By Samantha Pratt | September 9, 2018
Hi guys! My name is Samantha Pratt, and I am an AQHYA Region 1 director. I was also a participant in the 2017 Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program. As I reflect on my Young Horse Development experience, one word stands boldly in my mind: Passion. This word reflects the Young Horse Development program to me because throughout the program, my passion for the American Quarter Horse, learning and friendship grew exponentially.
My journey would not have been the same without my partner, RWS Scarlets Cutter, also known as “Scarlet.” She was donated to the program by Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Raymond Sutton Ranch of Gettysburg, South Dakota. This ranch is widely known for having the oldest American Quarter Horse production sale in the world! I felt very excited and honored to have a filly from such a prestigious ranch.
Scarlet was a challenge, as most young horses are, but taught me more than I had anticipated. Before the Young Horse Development program, I had never worked with a horse younger than 2 years old; therefore, working with a yearling was treading new waters. My young horse taught me the importance of patience, perseverance and always maintaining an open mind. As we worked on daily tasks, such as longeing, haunch turns or setting in hand, I felt our bond grow. I loved becoming her leader and watching her grow into a horse. One of my favorite memories within the nine months was simply braiding Scarlet’s mane on a summer evening. She was so relaxed, as I combined those three strands. I truly felt the trust she had in me as she began to fall asleep. That evening is one that will forever reflect my passion for the horse, because I felt nothing but love in my heart.
The Young Horse Development program involved a series of monthly tasks, as well as tasks to be done throughout the nine months. The monthly tasks included an essay about your yearling’s progress, a photo and a chart that tracked what you did with your horse daily. I personally loved that these reports allowed you to reflect on how much growth you and your horse have made, as well as make goals for future months. Other activities that I enjoyed include the nutrition webinar and test. I loved learning about equine nutrition and how to care for my yearling better. I also really enjoyed the in-hand trail pattern that required a great amount of discipline and perseverance.
When the program was all said and done, Scarlet and I placed third, receiving a $1,000 scholarship! I felt grateful for the experience and the friends I had made along the way. I completed the program with my best friend, Reanna Way, who was always there to support me, but I also got to meet and develop friendships with other people within diverse areas of the United States. The participants did not treat others like competition. It felt much more like a caring family. These friendships gave me a greater passion for others within the equine community. I am proud to be a Young Horse Development program participant and would recommend it to any youth looking to grow their passion for horses, learning and growing friendships.