Promoting the American Quarter Horse Around the World: An Experience of a Lifetime

Promoting the American Quarter Horse Around the World: An Experience of a Lifetime

Mississippi State University instructors reflect on their experience with the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camps after three weeks in four European countries.
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It has been an incredible start to the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camps, in which Mississippi State University has just completed the first series of horsemanship camps in Europe. Dr. Clay Cavinder, Ashley Shiffler and MSU undergraduate students reflect on how the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps provide a life-changing opportunity for college students to travel the world to promote the American Quarter Horse.

Dr. Clay Cavinder shares his favorite aspect of the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps
Extension horse specialist for Mississippi State University; professional judge for: American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, Appaloosa Horse Club, National Snaffle Bit Association, National Reining Horse Association.

"My favorite part of the clinics are seeing the participants and the clinicians get in sync with each other. They develop a rhythm in the learning experience that is really fun to watch. It's so different than teaching in the U.S. where we all speak the same language. These clinics require that the teachers adapt to a translator and lots of sign language. My students really grasp the [horsemanship] concepts even better once they figured out a different way of relating the material."

Ashley Shiffler shares her experience from the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps
Head coach of the MSU Equestrian Team and manager of the equine unit at MSU; two-time national champion in National Collegiate Equestrian Association competition 

"Having the opportunity to participate in the European horsemanship camps was such a blessing to the MSU students and myself. It gave me a platform to share the knowledge I’ve gained from participating in AQHA events and working within the equine industry. It was so fulfilling to see the participants progress throughout the camp and develop stronger communication with their horses. The most rewarding part for myself was the incredible relationships I was able to form with the camp participants, clinic hosts, and the AQHA representative."

AQHA Offers Collegiate Opportunities for Students to Pursue Their Equine Interests

Mississippi State University students Hannah Miller, Samantha Miller and Ashley Palmer further discussed how AQHA has provided an opportunity for them to develop their equine knowledge on an international scale by offering the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps. The students discussed how this programs allows young horsemen and horsewomen to pursue their equine interests while completing their college education. Additionally, the MSU students emphasized that AQHA's affiliation and support of the NCEA collegiate equestrian teams, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and collegiate horse judging teams supports students to complete their education while providing an opportunity for students to attain experience relevant to their equine motivated goals. The MSU students also shared how their experience on Mississippi State University's Horse Judging Team provided an opportunity to compete at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, the AQHA World Championship Show, and ultimately prepared them to travel around Europe to teach horsemanship for the 2016 AQHA International Horsemanship Camps.

Samantha Miller
2010 Midstate Horseman's Association over all grand champion, 2012 East Alabama Horseman's Association Winter Circuit adult timed champion

"The International Horsemanship Camps gave me the opportunity to apply what I know to help riders improve their own riding and strengthen their horses' training. My experience on the MSU Judging Team allows me to help riders who show or hope to show in the future by explaining penalties, what the judge sees, and what the judge is looking for while providing training techniques to help achieve a more ideal performance. I want to say a huge thank you to the clinic participants whose desires to learn and positive attitudes were truly priceless. Thank you to AQHA and Dr. Clay Cavinder for the opportunity of a lifetime."

Hannah Miller
First individual performance at the 2015 AQHA World Show Judging Contest for the  MSU Horse Judging Team, fifth individual overall at the 2015 AQHA World Judging Show for the MSU Horse Judging Team

"Because of the opportunity provided by the AQHA collegiate judging contests, I have been able to take my love for riding and apply it to judging, and I look forward to applying for my AQHA and National Reining Horse Association judges cards. This program has led to the incredible experience of teaching horsemanship clinics in Europe, where I have connected what I've learned from judging and applied it to training horses and riders. This also allows me to give the clinic participants a unique perspective into how their good horsemanship and practice at home can translate to better scores in various disciplines."

Ashley Palmer
Rider on MSU's IHSA Equestrian Team2007 Mississippi Hunter Jumper Association Children's Hunter of the Year.

"AQHA has given me the opportunity to learn more about the sport that I love through the collegiate judging contests that they offer. Due to being on the judging team, as well as riding under the guidance of AQHA judge Dr. Clay Cavinder, I have been able to pursue my equine interests with AQHA's grant to teach horsemanship in Europe for the AQHA International Horsemanship Camps. This has been a wonderful experience because I have been able to utilise my previous years of riding experience to teach others and help them through their riding journey."