Photography by Samantha Taylor
The weekend of 30 September and 1 October saw something magical happen south-west of Sydney, Australia. Children from five to 18 years, from all around the country, came together for a common goal – to enjoy their horses and make new friends.
For several years now, the Australian Arabian Horse Society has been looking to expand opportunities for our youth members. While time constraints saw the running of only a minimal youth programme at the Australian National Championships, there was no room to expand the programme and cater for a broader range of youth activities in that format. So this year, the decision was made to take the youth section of the Championships away from the main event and give it its own identity and a chance for further growth. Many generous sponsors and supporters put their hands up to help create this new event. The enthusiasm of these people went a long way towards making the inaugural Youth Championships such a success.
The discovery of the wonderful new facility in Camden, New South Wales, was the first step. K Ranch is perfect for the type of event we were looking to run. Although it has only been operating for 16 months, the arena, stables, camping facilities, bar and viewing area and location were an ideal setting. K Ranch is looking to further develop its facilities in the near future, so we will be looking to utilise this fantastic venue again in coming years.
The next step was to secure the right judge. We were fortunate enough to secure the expertise of Allan Preston to preside over this year’s event. Just the week before, Allan had judged the All Nations’ Cup in Aachen, and here he was, offering his expertise to the next generation of Arabian horse enthusiasts.
The programme had something for everyone. From lead line, to halter classes, to fancy dress, to ridden classes. A popular addition was the sporting programme, including working hunter classes and novelty games. This is one area we believe we can grow in coming years. It was great to see seasoned show horses letting their hair down to have a go at events such as bending, flags and barrel races. Our plan is to engage new members, from pony clubs and other sporting groups, to entice them to Arabian events.
Planning is already underway for next year and beyond. The programme will be expanded next year, and an additional day added. We look forward to providing a variety of activities for all youth competitors to enjoy, and hope to see even more youngsters come and experience the comradery, good sportsmanship and just sheer enjoyment that the competitors had this year.