If you’re a high school junior or senior, you’ve probably started thinking about college and where you want to go. And if you’re like many teens, you’re thinking about ways to pay for school. Going to college can be pretty expensive. According to the College Board, the average cost of attending an in-state college for the 2011-2012 academic year was $21,447. Ouch!
But, you’re a horse kid so you know the value of a dollar! You’re used to spending your money wisely so you can take care of your horse properly, pay for lessons and compete at the occasional show or event. So, of course you’re looking for scholarships to pay for the college of your choice and graduate with a degree that will help you get a great job so you can support your horsey habit.
Did you know that the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) offers a variety of scholarships to members of the AQHA and or the American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) through general, racing, career path and state or regional scholarships. Pretty cool.
If you’re already a member of AQHA, now’s the perfect time to check out these wonderful scholarships. If you’re not a member and you’re a fan of the American Quarter Horse, now’s a great time to join the club. A 12-month youth membership for someone aged 18 or younger costs only $15.
At present, the American Quarter Horse Foundation offers 25 scholarships to young horse lovers. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic achievement, financial need and their involvement with American Quarter Horses. Applicants are also judged on their leadership and communication skills.
To apply for a scholarship, you need to scout out the different scholarships available, download a non-specific application form from the AQHA’s website, fill it out and send it in to the American Quarter Horse Foundation. All of the applications are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and worthy young horse people like you are chosen to receive the scholarships.
Let’s take a look at a few of the scholarships that are available at the moment.
AQHF Youth Scholarship
This an $8000 four-year scholarship offered to teens that have been in the AQHA for three years or more. Applicants must be ranked in the upper 25 percent of their high school graduating glass, show an enthusiasm for promoting the American Quarter Horse and demonstrated leadership potential. Is this you?
AQHF Racing Scholarship
This is a $4000 or $8000 scholarship available to young people who have experience in the racing industry or who are seeking a career in the industry. Applicants may plan to specialize in veterinary science, racetrack management or other related fields.
Excellence in Equine/Agricultural Scholarship
The ideal candidate for this smoking hot $25,000 four-year scholarship is an AQHA or AQHYA member who shows leadership ability and excellence acquired by participation in equine or agricultural activities.
Farm and Ranch Heritage Scholarship
If you come from a farming or ranch background and participate in agricultural activities, this might be the scholarship for you. The successful applicant will be awarded a $12,500 four-year scholarship to the college of his or her choice.
EEAT Hippotherapy Scholarship
This $10,000 two-year scholarship is offered to AQHA members who are pursuing a career in the field of hippotherapy through physical therapy, occupational therapy and or speech language pathology. You must already be at least a sophomore in college to apply for this scholarship.
Journalism or Communications Scholarship
Are you interested in a career in news, editorial or print journalism, photo journalism or a related field? If so, apply for this $8000 four-year scholarship provided by AQHA Publications. You must apply for this scholarship during your senior year of high school or while enrolled as a freshman at an accredited college.
Young Rider talked to two young riders who received AQHA scholarships recently: Lauren Wells, Ill., and Morgan Kuntz, Mont.
Morgan Kuntz, Dillon, Mont., was recently awarded the AQHA Journalism or Communications Scholarship. Morgan lives on a ranch with her family and has been riding American Quarter Horses for years.
"My first Quarter Horse was a Christmas present from my grandpa. His name was Colonel Gee Freckles, but I called him Blackjack,” says Morgan. I got Blackjack when he was a yearling colt and started him myself. Now he’s my go-to ranch gelding. I use him for ranch work.”
Morgan owns several other Quarter Horses.
"I mainly use them for ranch riding and day rides when I work other ranches for a day,” says Morgan. "I start a lot of colts for other people too.”
So how did Morgan find out about AQHA scholarships?
I’ve been a member of the AQHYA for years,” says Morgan. "My trainer, Joani Kissock, told me about the scholarships, so I went on the internet and checked them out. I was excited to see there was a journalism and communications scholarship because I’m pursuing a major in communications at Oklahoma State University.”
Morgan hopes to graduate and find a job in communications, public relations or lobbying.
"One of my dreams is to be an advocate for agriculture or horses,” says Morgan. "I’d love to get a job with AQHA in communications or public relations.”
Does Morgan have any tips for teens that plan to apply for scholarships?
"Yes, have someone proofread your application!” says Morgan. "My pastor was an advanced placement English teacher and he went through all of my applications. He made sure that I didn’t ramble and that what I said was to the point and accurate.”
Lauren started riding American Quarter Horses when she was 12, but she didn’t own her own horse until the summer before her freshman year in high school.
"My aunt gave me her Quarter Horse mare, Grace,” says Lauren. "I showed Grace in 4-H and open horse shows throughout high school. After graduating, I took Grace with me to Black Hawk College in Galva, Ill., and we enrolled in a variety of riding classes.”
One of Lauren’s favorite courses was equitation over fences class.
"We spent each lesson learning the fundamentals of jumping. Grace was a natural at jumping and we both learned a lot,” says Lauren. "I hope to compete in hunter hack or equitation over fences classes with her some day.”
"I also competed on Black Hawk’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association equestrian team.”
Lauren’s been a member of AQHA since 2005.
"I’ve competed in horse judging contests at both the AQHA World Show and the All-American Quarter Horse Congress,” says Lauren. "I also participated in the impromptu and public speaking contests, horse bowl and team demonstration contests at the AQHA World Show.”
So how did Lauren find out about the AQHA’s scholarships?
"As an AQHA member, I knew about the scholarships and I read about past recipients in the AQHA Journal and became familiar with the application process,” explains Lauren.
"I filled out the universal application because I know how incredibly helpful scholarships can be to reduce the increasing expenses of attending college. Because I’m solely responsible for funding my education, even a $500 or $1000 scholarship would go a long way for me.
"I was completely shocked when I found out that I was the recipient of the AQHA’s largest annual scholarship--the $25,000 Excellence in Equine/Agricultural Involvement scholarship. The award was such a blessing that I transferred to Oklahoma State University to finish my education.”
Lauren is working toward a double major in animal science and agricultural communications and hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in equine nutrition.
"Because I love being around horses and serving others, I’d like to become an equine science professor,” says Lauren. "I’d also like to coach youth or collegiate showing teams.”
Does Lauren have any tips for young riders who would like to apply for scholarships?
"Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t selected as a recipient the first year you apply,” says Lauren. "Continue to apply every year that you’re eligible.”
"It’s also important to keep track of every academic, extra-curricular or community service activity you did in high school because they are crucial resume builders, not only for scholarships but for job interviews too.”