By Ashley Toye
The dream of competing at Youth Nationals begins for many at a young age. We have our supportive parents and lifelong friends to thank for introducing us to the Arabian horse. Our passion drives us to keep working towards our dream of one day entering the gate at the Youth National Championships. There are many routes equestrians take to get there, but all roads lead to Oklahoma City in July.
From the exhilarating English divisions to the intricate methods behind a Dressage test, the Working Western divisions, the details in Showmanship and the athleticism of Jumping, to the style of Hunter and Western Pleasure, we all join together to present the versatility of the Arabian Horse. The youth are our future, and Oklahoma City is the final destination and the curve in the road. This is where dreams come true and for those graduating seniors, new dreams come to life.
“Your National Champion is…” We hear this in our minds time and time again; while cleaning stalls, sitting in the saddle, driving to the barn, at school, and in our sleep. We envision the ride, feel the emotions, and then put in the time, all to hear the announcer say our name.
Getting to Youth Nationals is a long road. There are busy days at the barn, emotions that get the best of us sometimes, and frustrating moments during the training process. Both equestrians and their equine athletes can face many challenges along the way; however, that is the journey. In that journey, we become who we are, not only as equestrians but as individuals.
Developing a partnership with your horse is the key to success. From competing at the National level to riding on the trail, you can achieve any dream when you build trust and connection with your horse. We reach a point with these animals where they feel what we feel. They know what we are going to ask of them. Have you ever thought about your next gait and had your horse automatically switch gears? The bond between you and your horse is the most important part of the journey.
The addition of the Mid-Summer National Championship at Youth Nationals provides a unique opportunity for families. This is a family affair where both our youth’s and their parents’ dreams can come together. The Arabian horse is a family horse, and this unique competition allows kids, parents, and their trainers the opportunity to compete together. What could be better than watching your kid win a national title and then entering the gate for the ride of your life the next day?
Our social media feeds are infiltrated throughout the show with win shots, but the real wins are found at the barn. We truly gain from the Youth Nationals experience outside of the show ring, in the memories, the sportsmanship, and creating friendships.
The 2023 Water Fight was a highlight that will stand out for many as the best time of the show. Kids, parents, and trainers engaged in a much-needed cool down that went on for hours back at the barn. We do this for fun, which is what it’s all about! At the highest level of competition, we all must remember that building friendships, working hard, and having fun is just as important as your ride in the ring. This is the journey.
The 2023 Youth National & Mid-Summer National Championships were filled with memorable wins, great rides, and lasting memories. The road to Oklahoma is long, and we strive to arrive ready for roses, but we leave with so much more. If Oklahoma City is your destination next Summer, that journey starts now!
Arabian Horse World congratulates all the winners at this year’s Youth Nationals and Mid-Summer National Championship show.