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Junior Riders Shine at 11th Annual Arabian Youth Nationals

The Youth National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show celebrated its 11th anniversary when it returned to Expo New Mexico July 20-26 for a successful week of showing. This year's event showcased 902 of the nation's best Arabians, Half-Arabians and Anglo-Arabians from the United States and Canada competing in 104 classes with their talented young riders. Class entries totaled 2,373, indicating the versatility of the horses and riders. The slate of classes offered everything from dressage, English pleasure, hunter pleasure and halter to western pleasure, native costume, reining and working cow. Horse show competition and activities were open to youth, defined as competitors up to 18 years of age. Prizes such as saddles and bridles were awarded to competitors in select classes. The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) of Aurora, Colo., produced the event that offered top-level horse show competition and many exciting activities.

Two classes for juniors aged 14 to 17 tied for the title of largest class at Youth Nationals with 80 entries each. Arabian Hunter Pleasure JTR 14-17 champions Laura Lauterbach and her horse, Black Lite+/ (The Prophecy x Aur Magic Amber), were delighted hear they beat out 79 horses for their first championship title. Ariel Harrington and her Half-Arabian mare, Hafa Buck+// (Steppenwulf x Whirlwind's Temptation) came out on top in the Hunt Seat Equitation JTR 14-17 Championship.

The results for Vivacious Leigh+// (Focus Alimus+/ x BA Baskala) read six classes with six national championships or reserves titles, making her the show's biggest winner. Vivacious Leigh and her owner Meghan Braden picked up national championships in Arabian Country English Pleasure JOTR 14-17, Arabian Ladies Side Saddle JTR 17 & Under, Arabian English Show Hack JTR 14-17 and Arabian English Show Hack JOTR 17 & Under. The pair also added two reserve national championships in Arabian Mounted Native Costume JOTR 17 & Under and JTR 14-17 to their winning tally. "It was absolutely amazing," says Braden about her wins, "Vivi is a great horse who has come such a long way. I never imagined I would do this well with her!"

Purebred working cow horse competitors had an added incentive this year in the form of a trophy saddle for the champion, donated by a group of working cow horse enthusiasts. Colt Johnson rode both his horse, HF Phahreek (Hi-Fashion Sreekh x Phalee), for the championship and the reserve champion Amiin+ (Ibn Morafic x Ajibah) for Daniel and Summer Rupley.

Travis Mahoney rode Debbie Warren's Half-Arabian gelding Buckle Upp+/ (Nemo x Kochanah) to the Dressage Training Level JTR 14-17 Championship and the Dressage High Point Horse Award. He scored 71.15 in the class of 32 entries and won a dressage bridle donated by The Arabian Saddle Company.

Freestyle reining made its fourth appearance at Youth Nationals garnering rave reviews with its outrageous cast of characters and fun music. Freestyle Reining offered two divisions, for riders 14-17 years old and those 13 and under. Reiners were scored 80 percent on the technical difficulty in their reining patterns and up to 20 percent on the creativity of their program. The two classes hosted 16 competitors in individual presentations with movie, biker, cowboy, patriotism, Native American, pinball and limbo themes. The Freestyle Reining 14-17 Championship and a Western Tradition trophy saddle went to Elise Ulmer and Stephen Grove's mare Gontyka (*Gondolier x Basktyka) for their cowboy routine. Tor-Khemos-Mariya (Tor-Khemos-Image x TL Mccoys Melody) and owner Brad Skinner reined to a patriotic theme and were crowned Freestyle Reining 13 & Under Champions, receiving a cooler and western tack carry bags from Paint Rock Designs.

Youth activities gave exhibitors plenty of opportunities to relax and have fun during the week-long competition. The week's festivities started with the Arabian Horse Youth Association (AHYA) annual convention on Saturday July 19 that featured guest speakers, a general assembly and the election of the 2003-2004 AHYA officers. Youth members from each region decorated a golf cart and then paraded in center ring on Sunday night for the Parade of Regions. On Monday afternoon children aged 6 and under turned wooden dowels, socks, yarn and googly eyes into original stick horse creations for a special stick horse trail class that evening. The "anything goes" annual Dog Costume Contest and Dog Race held on Tuesday featured dogs dressed as horses, cowboys, tooth fairies, Julius Caesar and movie characters. The annual Hippology and horse judging contests offered novices the chance to test their horse knowledge while competing for ribbons and championship plaques. On Wednesday everyone was treated to an Ice Cream Social, and on Friday night exhibitors and their families celebrated at the Boot Scoot Street Dance with music, refreshments, door prizes and contests.

Sponsoring the 2003 Arabian Youth nationals are AHA corporate partners: The Arabian Saddle Company, Inc., Equisure, Inc., MD Barns Inc., Pfizer Inc., and MBNA. Additional show and youth activity sponsors are: The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Garduños Restaurants, Golf Tournaments, Inc., Paint Rock Designs, Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown Hotel, Show Season, The Dannon Company & Wal-Mart, Ventura Farms, Western Tradition and Zia Graphics.

AHA is a 40,000 member equine association that registers and maintains a database of more then one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses. It administers more than $4 million in annual prize money, produces national events, maintains official event records, recognizes more than 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities and programs that promote breeding and ownership. For information about Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses, call 303-696-4500, e-mail or visit


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