Two rookie youth exhibitors make the most of their first – and last – year of youth eligibility.
By Connie Lechleitner for The American Quarter Horse Journal
Your late teens can be a tumultuous time in your life. But for two young ladies, horses are helping to make an exciting – and rewarding – first and last year as an AQHA youth exhibitor.
Living the Dream
18-year-old Allye Deskins of Southville, Ohio, attended her first All American Quarter Horse Congress in 2011, where she watched the hunter under saddle events. Five months later, she’s now competing with many of those same exhibitors. Although she had showed at the Ohio State Fair’s All-Novice show in Columbus previously, 2012 is her first year to consistently compete at the AQHA level.
While looking for a horse to buy, Allye and her mother met Brian and Darla Lee and were impressed by how they worked with their clients and their horses. When they found Sterling Captive, or “Louis,” an APHA-AQHA grey gelding, at another barn, they knew they wanted to work with the Lees.
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“Allye works really, really hard,” Darla Lee says. “She has the will to do it and is willing to work hard to reach her goals. That’s half the battle.” The pair’s No. 1 goal is to compete at the 2012 All American Quarter Horse Congress, and their second goal is to qualify for the AQHYA World Show.
“Everything is either black or white with Louis – so you have to get things just right,” Allye says. “It takes perfection, so it’s a challenge. We’re showing in 14-18 and Novice hunter under saddle and showmanship.”
Louis and Allye’s show debut took place at the March to the Arch show in Missouri. “It has been really fun to meet the other youth, and I’m so star struck by all the trainers and the youth I’ve seen win at the Youth World. It has been a very positive experience,” she says.
This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Allye says. “I guess you could say I’m living the dream!”
After her final year of youth, Allye says her attention will turn to college, where she will major in art. “I’m looking at the University of Findlay, the Savannah School of Art, the Columbus College of Art and Design and Capital University,” she says. “I’d love one day to be able to mix my two interests of horses and art.”
For Erica Maletic of Annapolis, Maryland, horses have been a part of life for a long time. When she decided to attend Ohio State University, her two horses were part of the package. The geology major quickly found the farm of Sid, Leigh Ann and Dakota Griffith near the OSU campus and began boarding her horses there.
It wasn’t long before the Griffiths, who serve as coaches for the OSU equestrian team, had recruited Erica, 19, for the OSU team, and Dakota encouraged Erica to consider showing in AQHA events. Before she knew it, Erica had traded one of her horses and found herself with a new mount competing on the AQHA circuit.
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Erica and Hunting For Romance jumped into the big pool at their first show, competing at the 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress. “My goal is just to do the best I can,” Erica says. “Now Dakota’s goal is for me to qualify for the AQHYA World. I just love riding.”
Competing in showmanship, hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation, Erica shows in both the Novice youth and 14-18 divisions. Once Ohio’s in-state qualifying shows begin to hold over-fence classes, she’ll add those to her show schedule as well. Erica is not the only one in the family who competes, however. Her father, Gary, also competes in amateur showmanship, hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation.
“It’s really nice because it is something we can do together,” Erica says. “We’re kind of a competitive family – especially my dad’s side of the family. Even my mom was a competitive swimmer, so we all want to win!”
Although Erica has always had horses, and had shown at ApHC and open shows for several years, competing at the AQHA level was a whole new experience for her.
“It was hard to trade my horse that I had raised and leave all the people that I knew at the open shows, but it’s a lot of fun. I’m meeting a lot of new people and just enjoying it.”