YHD: The Best Decision I've Ever Made

Jacqueline Potwora reflects on her experience in the Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program.

2017 YHD Fourth Place Scholarship Winner, Jacqueline Potwora, with RWS Cuttin Class bred by Raymond Sutton Ranch.

11.29.16– A hairy, white nose shoots out of the stall. A whinny rings through my ears. Running up to him, he meets me in the middle by sticking his whole head out. That was the first time I met my “Ferris” (yes, like Bueller) whom I received through the Zoetis AQHA Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Program.

I applied in the summer of 2016 and found out I was accepted to receive a foal from an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder soon after. What a crazy year 2017 was! The American Quarter Horse Youth Association assigned each youth their AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder, mine being Raymond Sutton Ranch in South Dakota. They were the nicest people – they even asked lots of questions to find the horse that would best fit me.

Throughout the year, the Young Horse Development Program had each participant do certain tasks to earn points, which are added up at the end to decide the top-placing participants. Tasks such as monthly reports, growth charts and "hours-spent-training" documentations (which are fun to look back at and see just how much time you have invested in your friend), and end-of-the-year videos (i.e. trailering, in-hand trail course) to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished with your horse!

My favorite activity was the extra credit, as I had room to throw in some creativity with Ferris; you could get up to five points from doing extra activities that are approved beforehand. One thing I did was a “tricks” video, showing off Ferris and fun tricks I taught him. His favorite was “smile,” although I don’t recommend that because now he’ll flash his pearly whites whenever he wants a treat!

I am so thankful I was able to do this program, and I appreciate all of the sponsors like Zoetis and Nutrena for making it happen. I love looking back and seeing how much I’ve grown because of the Young Horse Development Program. I got fourth in the 2016-17 program, and I still have Ferris.

We are working on showing in ranch riding in 2019. I am so happy with how he is turning out, and this program helped him start his life and career with a fantastic foundation. I owe much of my thanks to AQHYA for a spectacular 2017!