At the National Western Stock Show, a huge focus is on education and the development of each and every kid who steps foot on the grounds. Whether that be through the trade show exhibits, the historic Stadium Arena, or the busy horse barns, the goal is for everyone to leave with a better understanding of the agricultural industry than they arrived with.
A new event that launched this year is the Youth Ranch Horse Mentor Matchup program. This program pairs ten professionals in the industry with young aspiring horsemen and women, ages ranging from 14 to 21. This program was designed to support our mission of providing agricultural education to kids around the state and country. The kids and their mentors work together for a half-day to prepare for a ranch versatility competition that afternoon.
Bryana Tannehill, a 17-year-old junior from Eaton, Colorado, is one of the young ladies that took part in the Mentor Matchup. Bryana said she has been coming to the National Western for a long time but this is her first year to participate. Bryana’s horse, Shorty, is an 11-year-old Quarter Horse.
She said, “This morning we were packing up the trailer and we started the truck to warm it up and he [Shorty] was pacing back and forth because he was nervous that we were going to leave him!”
Bryana added today she learned a lot of new reining disciplines, such as how to keep her hands still, be patient, relax and sit back. She will apply these new skills when she works cows as well.
Bryana was paired with NRHA professional, Shane Brown, who has competed in several events at the National Western for the past 27+ years. Shane has been riding horses for as long as he can remember and has been coming to the National Western for more than 30 years.
When I asked Shane why he volunteered as a mentor, he said “Anything that is going to help our youth in any way is pretty easy to say yes to.”
During the competition, the kids competed in three different events: trail course/ranch riding, reining pattern, and cattle work. When each of the kids performed, they were judged by a panel of three judges. After the results were totaled, the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion were awarded $2,000 and $1,000 in scholarships.
Due to the positive feedback from this event, the National Western Stock Show plans to continue the program for years to come. Thank you to the kids, coaches, parents and everyone else who helped make this event possible!
~ Emily Smith, Marketing Intern, National Western Stock Show