You're never too young (or old!) to learn about being a good steward of our horses and the environment in which we enjoy them. And if you can have fun while learning, that's all the better.
That's the goal of the Youth and Conservation Center at the 2010 QuarterFest: A Celebration of the American Quarter Horse, scheduled for April 30 - May 2 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The seven principles of Leave No Trace will be highlighted there in a scavenger hunt sponsored by the AQHA Junior Master Horseman program. Those principles, applicable to trail riders or outdoors enthusiasts of any age, are: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; and be considerate of other visitors.
The Youth and Conservation Center, sponsored by Breyer and Tractor Supply Co., will also feature an indoor "trail," with trees and rocks brought in by our host, Middle Tennessee State University, and other features, such as a bridge that participants can use to learn about the ideal size for a horse crossing. Look for an on-site compost pile, too, to learn how to compost at home.
Tractor Supply Co. will also have specially designed QuarterFest coloring books, illustrating environmentally friendly practices.
The U.S. Forest Service -- and Smokey Bear -- will also be on hand, along with the Equine Land Conservation Resource and the Back Country Horsemen of America.
To finish out the fun, other youth activities include making mop ponies in the Mop Pony Parlor, throwing horse shoes at the Horseshoeapalooza, making trail mix at the Trail Mix Fix, painting Stablemates with Breyer, taking pictures with Two Bits, testing out a saddle at Sit a Saddle and throwing a loop at the Roping Range. All of these youth activities are included in the price of the general admission ticket to QuarterFest. Children 11 and younger are admitted free with a paid adult.
The American Farrier's Association will offer shoeing and blacksmithing demonstrations in the Youth and Conservation Center, as well.
QuarterFest is a three-day, education-packed celebration of the horse, where horse enthusiasts from around the world will gather for fun, entertainment and festivities.
Come to learn. Come to make friends. Come for the entertainment. But most of all, come to honor your horse.
If you're an AQHA member, you'll be eligible for reduced admission at QuarterFest. So save the dates -- April 30 to May 2 -- and make sure your AQHA membership is up to date.
Our sponsors -- Bank of America, B&W Trailer Hitches, John Deere, Justin Boots, Pfizer, Professional's Choice, Farnam, Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment, Tractor Supply Co. and Wrangler -- share our passion for horses and are an integral part of QuarterFest.
QuarterFest isn't the only place we're going green. In honor of Earth Day, look for enviro-friendly tips all week on America's Horse Daily. And don't miss the May America's Horse magazine, a special issue spotlighting recreational riding. America's Horse, delivered to your mailbox 10 times a year, is just one benefit of being an AQHA member.