There’s nothing quite like the versatility of a Paint Horse to make a young rider dream big. Two Youth recently earned AjPHA’s highest honor: the Superior Youth Champion award. Sydney Schmidt and Alexandra Fink recently joined the ranks of only a handful of Youth who have achieved this honor since 1978.
The Superior Youth Champion title rewards the most versatile of horse and rider teams: to clinch the achievement, they needed at least 270 Youth points—including at least 30 in halter, 240 in performance classes, Superiors in four different event categories and Registers of Merit in four additional categories.
Both Sydney and Ally were honored during the 2014 AjPHA Youth World Championship Show for their milestones. For winning these awards, each equestrienne takes home $2,500. Ally also took received a Cowboy Bronze crystal ice trophy, and Sydney chose to take home the alternate price, an Ivy Custom Leather briefcase.
Sydney Schmidt & The Big Maneuver
Teaming up with “Big” only one year ago, Sydney Schmidt never imagined she’d come so far, so fast. The 16-year-old from Lowman, New York, and her 2006 bay overo gelding, who is by The Big Sensation and out of Manuverin My Shadow (QH), recently became the 65th team to win the Superior Youth Champion award from AjPHA.
“When I first rode him, he was so different than the other horses—he was so much calmer. We had an instant bond,” she said. “I got on him and i knew he was the horse for me. it just felt right.”
A versatile team, Sydney and Big have to date earned 844 Youth points in 15 events. They’ve earned Superiors in seven events—halter, hunter under saddle, barrel racing, hunt-seat equitation, horsemanship, showmanship and trail—along with 14 Registers of Merit.
“He’s so good at all the different events. He just loves to do different things,” Sydney said.
Despite their success in the show ring, winning the Superior Youth Champion title still came as a surprise to Sydney.
“I never thought I would be able to do this with him. It was amazing to realize we could accomplish that together,” she said. “Big is really special; he’s my best friend.”
Learn more about Sydney’s journey to this premier award in the August 2014 issue of the Paint Horse Journal and in the June 29th edition of Around the World, the daily video blog from the 2014 AjPHA Youth World Championship Show. Click here to watch or find it on youtube.com/aphavideo.
Alexandra Fink & Gallant Zippo
Ally and “Gilly” became the 66th team to earn the Superior Youth Champion title. In only 18 months, the duo from Coronado, California, have earned more than 700 points in 15 different Youth events, along with 14 ROMs and five Superiors.
The Fink family purchased Gilly—a 2007 chestnut overo gelding by Mckenzies Gallant Jet and out of Zippo Pine Jewel—in November 2012. Among Gilly’s specialties are over-fences classes, which were new for Ally. A multiple world champion in jumping events, Gilly proved to be a perfect tutor for the young rider.
“He’s the one who taught me jumping, which is my big event now,” she said. “I didn’t do any jumping until I got him. He’s taught me everything.”
After seeing her trainer’s daughter win the Superior Youth Champion title, Ally decided that would be a great goal to strive for with Gilly.
I love doing the speed and the true all-around events,” she said. “My best event is probably jumping or hunter under saddle. Achieving this award just proves all my hard work has paid off.”
Aside from being a great teacher and willing partner in the show ring, Ally loves Gilly’s loving personality.
“If he was any other animal, he would be a dog because he’s always on top of you,” she said.
Ally was featured on the July 3 edition of Around the World—click here to watch or find it on youtube.com/aphavideo. Watch for an article about their road to the Superior Youth Champion title in an upcoming issue of the Paint Horse Journal.
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses. For more information about the American Paint Horse Association, visit apha.com or connect with Paint Horse fans globally at facebook.com/americanpainthorse or on Twitter @APHANews.