By Shawna Hettick
APHA’s internship program helps students obtain hands-on experience and get their foot in the door of the equine community. This fall, two new faces and one familiar one round out the 2019 APHA intern team.
APHA’s fall performance intern, Kelsey Thompson, is from Paris, Texas. Kelsey recently graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.
During college, Kelsey interned for a riding academy where she cared for retired national-level performance horses and gave lessons to children. This helped develop her passion for horses, especially for senior horses.
Besides horses, Kelsey enjoys spending time with family and friends and getting involved in community activities such as The Porch at Watermark Community Church. However, her favorite pastime is watching TAMU football with the Fort Worth Aggie Club.
Kelsey applied for the APHA internship because she realized during her senior year of college that she wanted to have a place in the equine industry. Growing up, she didn’t have the opportunity to show or get involved in the performance realm of the industry, so she’s excited for the experience with APHA.
“I am confident this opportunity will open my eyes to the equine industry and help me get my foot in the door to this interconnected community,” Kelsey said. “As I look at the next steps toward my career, my goal for the future of this industry is to help improve the quality of life for all horses, from the backyard horse to the elite athlete.”
APHA’s marketing intern, Shawna Hettick, traveled to Fort Worth from Gig Harbor, Washington. Shawna recently graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, specializing in marketing and minoring in communications.
She grew up on her family farm and has been riding horses all her life. Her first horse, Go Boopee Go (QH) carried her through 4-H and taught Shawna about the incredible the bond with a horse; she now rides her Paint mare Pie TS Scenic Puff and Quarter Horse gelding Superior Source at local shows.
Through her 4-H years, Shawna worked hard to be a leader, both while showing her horses and as a member of the judging team. She competed as part of her high school equestrian team and was a captain for the performance and drill teams. At CWU, she strived to be a competitive intercollegiate equestrian athlete.
As part of her APHA internship, Shawna hopes to learn about and contribute to all the work that goes on behind the scenes of an international equine breed association.
“APHA has a lot of loyal members that range from show competitors to trail riders,” Shawna said. “I want to learn from this organization and see how they stay active and prominent in the equine community.”
Looking forward, Shawna wants to stay in the equine or agriculture industries, working in marketing. She is also looking to finish her apprenticeship to become a carded 4-H horse judge and aspires to earn other judging cards as well.
“I’m that person who rushed back to my house after work to watch the live streams of every world show. Now, getting to be here in Texas and help run the APHA World Show is like a dream come true,” Shawna said.
Mary Grace Schmid
Continuing as the Publications Department’s intern, Mary Grace Schmid returns to gain even more experience at APHA. Mary Grace is originally from Ortonville, Michigan; she graduated from Baylor University this May where she studied journalism, public relations and new media and minored in political science. She has been riding for years and showing Paint Horses since 2015. Mary Grace also was very involved in 4-H during high school.
In 2017, she took home reserve world championships in Novice Amateur Western Riding and Novice Amateur Horsemanship with A Subtle Impulse. Now as an intern, she will help run the World Show at which she once competed.
“I could not be more excited to work the World Show,” she said. “It’s such a big show that I look forward to every year. I am interested to see the difference between showing at the World Show and working it.”
The biggest reason Mary Grace got involved with APHA was because of her gelding Sent Certified, also known as “Blue.” While all the horses she has ridden have meant a lot to her, he was the one who left the biggest impact on her life.
“Blue was one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden,” she said. “He has the kindest heart and was my stress relief in college. Without him, I would have never gotten involved with APHA or met my barn family. He sparked my lifelong love for the Paint Horse.”