The Horseback Riding Program gives riders a sense of accomplishment.
Rebecca Loomer, 48, is an ex-horse-show junkie. She has raised and ridden world and reserve world champions in the International Buckskin Horse Association and the American Ranch Horse Association.
But when Rebecca started a family, her days of having time to dedicate to showing went out the window. Horses were still an everyday part of the Harrodsburg, Kentucky, horsewoman's life – she and her husband, Kent, breed Quarter Horses and received their 20-year cumulative breeder award in 2004 – but balancing her roles as mother, musician and horse caretaker became her main priority.
Rebecca was satisfied with her accomplishments as a breeder and exhibitor, but she missed having something to work toward.
“When I had won what I wanted to win and raised what I wanted to raise, I thought, ‘Now what do I do?' ” Rebecca recalls. “And then the Horseback Riding Program came along.”
Horseback Riding Program
Through AQHA's Horseback Riding Program, 14,000 AQHA and AQHYA members have discovered another way to enjoy their time horseback, while still having the opportunity to set goals and earn awards.
The program was started in 1991 and is open to all members. Participants keep track of saddle time, using the hourly log sheet available at www.aqha.com and send in their logs to AQHA. The 5,000-hour award is the highest level of recognition, and usually fewer than 20 people each year reach that benchmark.
Participants receive awards for each level they reach in the program. Drysdales gift certificates are awarded for 50 hours in the saddle, and awards increase from there.
The Horseback Riding Program is just one of the many benefits of AQHA membership. Click here to join or renew today!
Rebecca has been enrolled in the HBR Program since 1994, and that 50-hour award led to many others: a belt, conchos and eventually a 5,000-hour Montana Silversmiths buckle.
“The thing I love about horses is they are so goal-oriented,” Rebecca says, “and I am such a goal-oriented person. You can set goals, even if it's just something like mounting from the ground, and then you've got something to work toward. And the program is such a neat way to keep on track.”
Rebecca spends much of her saddle time riding colts and trail riding. In total, she rode 14 different horses for her 5,000-hour award, but logged most of them on her homebred mare, Sat In Bleach, whom Rebecca calls “Cee Cee.”
Rebecca finds relaxation in riding and tries to saddle up everyday.
“It makes me get along with my family,” she says jokingly.
The rest of Rebecca's family enjoys horses as well, but her 9-year-old daughter, Joanah, is her main riding partner.
They ride the 100 acres on their farm and explore the trails at nearby state parks.
“The first trail ride I took my youngest daughter on was big fun for me,” Rebecca remembers. “She rode my old mare, FT Star Buckette. Joanah was about 4, and we rode for three hours. It was one of those deals where you just knot the reins, and the mare will follow along.
“That child sang from the time we got in the saddle to the time we got back home. I was so tired of hearing her sing, but the mere fact that she enjoyed riding as much as I did was cool, because I knew I had me a saddle pal.”
AQHA’s Horseback Riding Program lets you earn rewards for every hour you spend in the saddle. Have fun and earn great prizes at the same time!
Rebecca is not the only one who benefits from being enrolled in the HBR program. She has found creative ways to turn her riding hours into opportunities to help her community.
The first time Rebecca took Cee Cee off the farm, she loaded her in a trailer, unloaded her on a busy street and walked her up a set of stairs and onto a stage where Rebecca rode her all night as the headless horseman in a community drama production.
Rebecca has also ridden her horses in church plays and used them to give children rides during a preschool farm day.
“That's what I love about this breed,” Rebecca says. “They're so level-headed. And I think the Horseback Riding Program is a wonderful way to get families and kids involved.”
Ready to join the Horseback Riding Program?
Click here to find out more about qualifications, rules, awards and how to enroll in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program.