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ASHBA Celebrates Successful Return of Youth Conference

Published Date: Feb 26, 2022

The American Saddlebred Horse & Breeders Association 2022 ASHBA Youth Conference presented by SG Equine Ventures, and Proctor Gallagher was back and as good as ever! We were proud to welcome nearly 250 youth for a weekend full of activities and Saddlebred Smiles! From educational activities to experiences of a lifetime, the weekend was one everyone in attendance would cherish. 

Each year the ASHBA Youth Conference strives to provide once-in-a-lifetime memories for attendees. Still, none of that is possible or matters without the help, support, and volunteerism of the Saddlebred community. The Saddlebred industry, from all aspects, came together to give of their resources, knowledge, and time to ensure we could create a valuable and fun experience for ASHBA Youth, the future of the breed.

Thank you to the Planning Committee that begins coming to the table six months out every year to dedicate themselves to putting all the pieces together that make this event great. They volunteer their time, hold fundraisers, donate their facilities, and more to ensure the activities keep getting better every year. Thank you to our 2022 planning group led by ASHBA's Samantha Geller was made up of Julie Anne Broder, Julie Kaufman, Christy Parker, Andrea Bratcher, Deveau Zubrod, Brooke Applegate, Kaelyn Donnelly-Browning, and the team at Grey Ridge Farm.  


Thank you to our sponsors and vendors that support the Youth Conference year after year. This year we welcomed Sandra Gallagher as a presenting sponsor through her SG Equine Ventures and Proctor Gallagher Institute. We were thrilled to share the many attendee gifts from these great entities and the motivational video Sandra and her team created to share with this group of young leaders!

Our activities were also helped made possible by our Gold Level Sponsors James and Misdee Miller and Riverdreams LLC, Silver Level and Lunch Sponsors The Sampsel/Warren Family, Bronze Sponsors Bosworth Family and Pair of Jacks Stables, Cross Creek Equine Practice LLC, Doctor Dobro LLC, EAC Equine, Independent Equine Agents, MLS Equestrian, Prospect Lane Stables, and The Saddle Horse Report.

Transportation for the field trip for attendees was made possible by the support of the ownership teams of WGC Bourbon Select, WGC The Crowd Went Nuts!, 2015 WGC Marc Of Charm, and WCC Game Changer.

Friends of ASHBA level sponsors also helped make treats, presentations, decorations, and more possible for this wonderful weekend! Thank you to Jennifer Dixon, the Honey Baked Ham Company, Jennifer and Caroline Katko, Erin Obenauf, Carol Reed, Richfield Video Productions, Doug Shiflet Photography, University of Kentucky Ag Equine Program, William Woods University, and Deveau Zubrod Kreitzer for their continued support.

All of our sponsors' contributions provide the foundation for making this event possible. Thank you for investing in the future of the American Saddlebred and supporting the ASHBA in creating memories that last a lifetime for Saddlebred Youth.

Thank you to our host Grey Ridge Farm for opening their doors and going above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome and have a perfect place to offer a full day of activities. It was a special day of hosting so many fellow horses, farms, and industry professionals that all were lucky to call this fantastic facility home for a remarkable #SaddlebredSaturday. Every member of the Grey Ridge team gave an immense about of time and energy to give back to our industry and provide an enriching experience to ASHBA Youth.

Thank you to our special guests who brought their expertise for the many different sessions this weekend that make the conference a one-of-a-kind event and help us #SharetheSaddlebred!

We were humbled to have a clinician and specialists such as Ellen Baird of Success in Saddles and ASHBA's Horsin' Around with Ellen to lead all of our educational activities and horse presentation discussions. Ellen led sessions for parents and our senior age group attendees Friday evening that worked on everything from understanding key instructional phrases to rein pressure. During our horse presentations, Ellen narrated the performances highlighting the form and function of each riding style, horse division, and discipline.

Saturday also featured a fantastic series of special presenters for attendees to rotate through to learn more about horses, industry professions, and equine health and safety. The University of Kentucky Equine Programs provided two stations under the direction of Dr. Bob Coleman and the Wildcat Wranglers for youth to learn about tack and horse colors and markings. Dr. Ashley Craig had many of her state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to demonstrate how she helps Saddlebreds stay healthy and bring foals safely into the world. Aubri Hostetter of Hallway Feeds let youth get their hands on different types of grain, supplements, and hay bale tester discussed dietary health and management. With the help of breed diplomat Rocky Mountain Memories (Reggie), Dave Lopez taught attendees about the proper and safe way to provide hoof care. To spotlight the more creative opportunities in the horse industry, Julie Anne Broder and Kaelyn Donnelly Browning discussed equine photography, breed publications, and equine marketing.

Thank you to our horses

From an extensive meet and greet with 2021 World's Grand Champions to a panel of versatile performers we did our best to assure it was the experience of a lifetime to expose the attendees to all the possibilities available to them as lovers of the American Saddlebred. Presenting these great champions and performers was all made possible by the generosity of the owners, trainers, and teams behind these American Saddlebred ambassadors.

Saddlebred Stars WGC Bourbon Select and WGC The Crowd Went Nuts! Their teams were on site for these champions' up-close and personal presentations. They shared what made each of these horses special in and out of the show ring after attendees were treated to photos, signed posters, and a chance to meet these championship teams individually. Trainers Robert Gardiner and Neil Visser answered questions.


Demonstrations started with American Saddlebred Sport Horse teams of CH-SH Royal Crest's Granite Permission with Lily Callahan and Look Who's Charming Now! with Isabel McSwain. The pairs who both compete in Eventing showcased jumping and dressage. Each of these collegiate riders spoke to their Saddlebred story. They were sharing the experience of their horse's strengths for the discipline and how it has been having an often underappreciated breed in those areas.

Multi-National Champion Western Country Pleasure team CH Double Parked and Charlotte Mattson Kurtz showed off their moves in sterling silver next. They taught our attendees about the collection work, tack, and clothing that goes into standing out in this division. The current Triple Crown Champion team of Alayna Applegate and CH-EQ Altar Of The Sun came to demonstrate the saddle seat equitation division. They discussed pattern work, the process of preparing for the equitation finals, and how they are looking forward to this horse continuing his equitation career with his new owner, Brooklyn Gaskill, this year.

Young horse development was another segment covered during this year's horse demonstrations. First up was future show ring standout Legend Of Style and Bret Day, demonstrating the five-gaited division and discussing the fine points about building a strong, trusting relationship between horse and rider to allow a young horse's first ring experience be a good one. The second young horse was Silas with Emma Caruso from Sunrise Stables. While Emma was demonstrating the American Saddlebred Hunter Country Pleasure prospect in motion, Melissa Moore discussed how the division has developed and how their breeding program has used the division as an opportunity for more of their babies to be successful. Also from Grey Ridge was young park champion, Signature Cocktail. Bret broke down how they worked to find the best fit for this talented gelding and how confirmation plays into that decision.

Thank you to our youth clubs from across the country that takes time away from their lesson programs and barns to bring their ASHBA Youth to our conference. It is through these groups that promote our breed and equestrian sport that make the future of our breed possible. This year the group that came the greatest distance was the Bolton Stables Crew, from San Marcos, California. The youth group with the largest attendance was Desmar Stables, who showed up #SaddlebredStrong with 36 registered attendees.  We are especially grateful to our clubs that volunteered to help during this year's conference. Thank you to Brannon Stables, Desmar Stables, and Kayla Mack for sharing their time and energy to help with making our sessions run smoothly. 

Thank you to our staff, that makes great efforts to lead and support the planning and execution of this event. Samantha Geller, Special Programs Manager, organization, planning, and dedication to details, brought the weekend new experiences and an updated format for attendees. In addition to Sam, ASHBA staff members David Mount, Jessica Cushing, and Morgan King were there to make the wonderful weekend possible.


 It takes a village, and we are beyond grateful to every supporter, attendee, and guest that gave to the ASHBA Youth Conference so our youth and the future of the breed could get an experience of a lifetime!

 Photos and videos from the weekend are available at Kaelyn Donnelly Marketing.

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