Young Horse Development Project

Eleven American Quarter Horse Youth Association members vied for scholarships and prizes in the inaugural year of the American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage Young Horse Development Project. The program required participants to complete a project book, exhibit their project yearling in either showmanship or halter at an AQHA show, write a 500-word essay about their show experience and complete an evaluation session with an AQHA Professional Horseman.

Jim Hunt (left) and Joni Hunt (right) present Holly Kiess, Kaycee Szymanski, Alan Hinds, Shianne Hoatson and Paige Portenier with their 2012 project foals at the Hunts’ Open Rafter Ranch Production Sale. (Photo by Lezlie Moore)

The 2011 Young Horse Development Project winner was Sivana Brewer of Stafford, Missouri. The 14-year-old?s project was Frenches Zilona Flit, a 2011 sorrel filly bred by Jim and Joni Hunt?s Open Box Rafter Ranch in Faith, South Dakota. The filly is by French Flit and out of the Fast Commander mare Henny Penny Hancock. For her win, Brewer was awarded a $2,000 scholarship plus a Montana Silversmiths belt buckle.

The runner-up in the 2011 Young Horse Development Project was 16-year-old Jaryd Quintero of Dallesport, Washington. Quintero?s project was PC Cisco Frost Bars, a 2011 chestnut gelding by PC Cisco Frost and out of Kina Sugar by Sonny Sugar; PC Cisco Frost Bars was also bred by Open Box Rafter Ranch. Quintero was awarded a $1,500 scholarship and a pair of Justin boots.

In third place was Tee Newton Aune, a 16-year-old from Glasgow, Montana. Aune?s project was Tough Leo Peppy, a son of Tough San and out of Sakem Lue Lue by Stans Sandoc. Bred by the Hunt?s Open Box Rafter Ranch, Tough Leo San is a 2011 bay gelding. For his win, Aune was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a $100 Wrangler gift certificate.

Carmon Weldi of Plain City, Ohio, captured fourth place for her work with Four Pistols Hancock. The 2001 bay roan mare, bred by Haythorn Land and Cattle Co. of Arthur, Nebraska, is by Babes Handy Pistol and out of the Figure Four Fritz mare Four Drift. Weldi, 16, received a $500 scholarship and a $100 Wrangler gift certificate.

?Designed to showcase the stock bred and raised by AQHA Ranching Heritage members, the Young Horse Development Project also offers youth the opportunity to further their education of horse training, care and health,? said Jim Bret Campbell, AQHA senior director of marketing and publications.

For the project, accepted AQHYA members purchase a nominated weanling from an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder. From the weanling to yearling years, the AQHYA members work with and train their foals, then exhibit the foals at an AQHA show. Ultimately, the project participants have the chance to win back their investment in their foals through scholarships. Youth applicants must be AQHYA members. Applications to receive a foal for the 2012 selection were due August 24.

The 2012 foal recipients are

  • Brooke Brumley of Durfur, Oregon ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Shianne S. Hoatson of Hershey, Nebraska ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Alan Hinds of Minburn, Iowa ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Kaycee C. Szymanski of Sturgis, South Dakota ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Paige Portenier of Caldwell, Idaho ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Holly Kiess of Fort Wayne, Indiana ? weanling from Open Box Rafter Ranch
  • Kodie Jenkins of Preston, Idaho ? weanling from KT Ranch of Connell, Washington
  • Nicole Knutson of Littleton, Colorado ? weanling from KT Ranch
  • Erin Hooker of Chowchilla, California ? weanling from KT Ranch
  • Tara Osburn of Hillsboro, Oregon ? weanling from KT Ranch
  • Rebecca Wetherington of Winchester, Ohio ? weanling from Staple Triangle Ranch of Eagle Butte, South Dakota
  • Anna Mills of Ashland, Kansas ? weanling from Staple Triangle Ranch
  • Makayla Rogers of Boston, Kentucky ? weanling from Staple Triangle Ranch
  • Moriah Mill of Groveton, Texas ? weanling from Bender Ranch of Moloridge, South Dakota
  • Madison Belisle of Deer Park, Wisconsin ? weanling from Lauing Mill Iron L Ranch of Sturgis, South Dakota
  • Karli Knapp of Townshend, Vermont ? weanling from Moreau River Quarter Horses of Mud Butte, South Dakota
  • Hannah Mauter of Kirtland, Ohio ? weanling from Raymond Sutton Ranch of Gettysburg, South Dakota
  • Katelynn Sellers of Baytown, Texas ? weanling from Raymond Sutton Ranch
  • Meagan Gravelle of Crandall, Texas ? weanling from Lazy 8 Ranches of Coleman, Texas

?The benefits of the Young Horse Development Project are endless,? Campbell added. ?This program not only showcases the colts being bred by our Ranching Heritage Breeders, it also offers AQHYA members the chance to network with and learn from those breeders.

?When the youth participants apply for academic scholarships, college and jobs, they will have a wide range of skills and abilities they?ve gained through this project that they can hang their hats on.?

To learn more about the Young Horse Development Project, visit

About AQHA Ranching Heritage

The AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program highlights the honesty, integrity and heritage of American Quarter Horse ranching breeders and is managed by the AQHA Ranching Council through three major initiatives:

To learn more about the AQHA Ranching Council and its initiatives, visit

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