Youth in Action: Junior Master Horseman at Work

AQHYA member Mikaela Goodwin experienced first-hand the benefits of the Junior Master Horseman program.

By Mikaela Goodwin
The American Quarter Horse Journal
May 12, 2014

Mikaela Goodmin Junior Master Horseman

Mikaela Goodwin took her horsemanship to the next level during a Junior Master Horseman clinic in Maine. (Credit: Courtesy of Mikaela Goodwin)

For the last 13 years, my life has been consumed by horses – ever since I got my first stuffed animal horse as a little kid. Now, as a junior at Ellsworth High School, I’m looking into colleges with equine programs. But I still remember where I started as a young rider. I remember my riding instructors asking basic questions, such as "Can you tell me where the knee is?” or “Where is the hock?”

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Wanda Lounder started us from the ground up. With each lesson, I learned one more thing about horse conformation and became faster at identifying the different parts of a horse. As I got older, Wanda provided me with more information about the heart rate of a horse and how to tell if your horse is colicking.

Because I don't have a horse of my own, I was learning everything I could about each horse that came to the riding stable. I found lame horses really intriguing, so I asked questions every time I had the opportunity. I even watched the veterinarian and farrier when they came to the stable because I wanted to see how they treated the horses. I so dearly wanted to know everything. It all paid off when Wanda approached me and asked if I wanted to join her Junior Master Horseman program. I could not refuse!

The JMH program is so much fun. I have learned more than I could have ever imagined, and I am grateful for how much Wanda has taught me. Even if you’re 15 years old and just starting JMH, I recommend that you start with Level 1, which was a great review for me. I got halfway through Level 2 before our first JMH clinic/competition at Double L Stable. Level 2 was also a bit of a review for me, but there was a lot in that book that I didn't know.

My first JMH clinic/competition was awesome! There was a division for the really little kids, as well as level 1, 2 and 3 competitions. With the exception of two girls, most of us started the weekend in Level 2. This required us to take a written test and judge horses in halter. The written test wasn't as bad as one might think. Sure, you might feel like you’re in school taking a test, but you won’t mind taking this test if you’re a horse lover.

The halter judging was more difficult for me, because I’m used to American Quarter Horse conformation. Trying to judge a different breed of horse proved to be more challenging. I had to remind myself that we’re judging general conformation, not the conformation of a certain breed.

After we finished the test and judging, we tallied up our scores and ended up in a four-way tie! So, of course, we had to do a tiebreaker. We had to name as many bones in the horse skeleton as we could. Following the tiebreaker, we held an awards ceremony. Although I didn’t go to the clinic/competition just for the ribbons and trophies, they were truly amazing.

Everyone who participated that day did a great job, which resulted in only a couple points between all of our scores. But, really, I learned so much. It just proves to me that the Junior Master Horseman book series was a really great thing for me to buy. JMH teaches you so much about horse history, safety, feeding, grooming and more.

I am really looking forward to future events and meeting new people. It made me think: showing people, racing people, draft horse owners and other horse people really only hang out with their group. In JMH, those groups all come together. All that matters in JMH is your knowledge of horses, not the group from which you came.  

This program doesn't care about what you have, what you wear, how many titles you have or if you even own a horse. JMH strives to increase your knowledge about horses. In fact, I met a girl and her family who worked with draft horses! It was great exchanging horse stories with each other, and that's what I love about this program. You meet new people who have the same interest as you – the horse.

I would like to thank my amazing riding instructor, AQHA Professional Horsewoman and JMH leader Wanda Lounder, for everything she does for kids. Her guidance was so valuable. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn't be where I am today or have this awesome knowledge about horses. I want to thank Brandy Lounder for helping me, too. You both do a great job!

So, if you’re a horse lover who wants to learn even more about horses, try JMH.  I know you won't regret it.

Because opportunities abound for horse-interested kids, the new AQHYA blog, Youth in Action, captures those adventures. Learn more about the endless prospects for young horsemen through AQHYA at www.aqha.com/youth-in-action.