By Meaghan Shaffer

Founded in 1964, the Arabian Horse Association of the San Fernando Valley (AHASFV) has grown into the largest Arabian horse club of Region 2 in the Arabian Horse Association. Although the club promotes the Arabian horse, it also has many activities and opportunities for horse lovers of any age and any breed affiliation. AHASFV is supportive of local nonprofit programs, and donates to a variety of horse related causes to the benefit of many. The club hosts community fun shows and trail rides throughout the year and several outings and clinics for all ages. AHASFV also has a very strong youth program, even involving kids who don’t own their own horses.

The all-breed fun shows are offered four times a year and are open to all breeds. The classes are only $6 and the goal is to keep the shows fun (hence the name), low cost, and accessible for everyone. Some people use the shows to school their upper level show horses, but most are families and youth who are just starting out. The shows are themed and decorating yourself and your horse is encouraged! The Halloween costume parade is a yearly favorite. The horse shows are held in Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Westlake Village, and Woodland Hills. Our next fun show will be held January 11, 2015. Following that, there will be another one for St. Patrick’s Day in mid-March.

AHASFV also hosts quarterly trail rides including a camping trip at the V6 Ranch in Central California. The trail rides are usually located within a 50 miles radius of the San Fernando Valley with many national parks in the vicinity. The club trail leader, Cynthia Binder, encourages all breeds and levels to join in the rides and feels that “the more, the merrier!” The rides vary in intensity of terrain and technicality. Some are easy training rides and others are more challenging including water crossings. Cynthia details each ride well so that riders can choose rides that match their goals. These rides are a great chance to explore new trails with new friends. The dates for the rides are all listed on the AHASFV website.

Kathleen Green heads up the annual V6 Ranch ride. The 3 day ride is held in September. It’s an all catered affair with options for camping, bunk houses, or a hotel. Participants may bring their own horses or ride a well-trained ranch horse. Riders experience life on a working cattle ranch and enjoy the rugged beauty of the 20,000 acre ranch in Parkfield.

On tap for 2015, are clinics that anyone may attend. The club is looking at hosting a clinic at the Sweetwater Ranch in Agua Dulce which is chock full of amazing obstacles out in fields as well as under a covered arena. In addition to that trip, the club is planning to host a showmanship clinic. Adult showmanship is growing in popularity so this clinic would be fitting for both adults and youth. The dates and details will be posted after the New Year.

Finally, the youth group has an active set of kids who participate in hippology teams, judging teams, field trips to local farms and horse shows, and they assist and volunteer with the fun shows. The kids grow in the club and eventually are even able to run for office at the Regional level if they’re interested. Membership for youth in AHASFV is only $25/year.

The hippology program is an extraordinary opportunity for youth interested in all things horse. Hippology is the study of horses so it includes all things such as colors, breeds, training, tack, management, conformation, feed, etc. Beginning in January, the kids study all things on the Internet and in books. Most attend monthly training sessions and are given weekly homework assignments. In May and June, the kids are given two hippology exams. The six top scoring kids in these exams earn the opportunity to compete at Youth Nationals. The youth helped to raise funds for the trip by scooping and serving ice cream at two horse shows. In July, the club fully sponsors and sends a hippology team of six to the Arabian Youth Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico to compete in the Hippology Contest. Any youth member can study and partake in the monthly activities but only the top six test takers are able to participate in the summer trip. It’s an adventure of a lifetime!

The second largest program involving the youth is the Youth Judging Team. This team is composed mainly of the older youth that want to learn how to critique a horse and the different requirements expected in each discipline of riding. The youth learn to judge halter horses for conformation and type (most resembling their breed) and performance classes. After learning to judge and place a class, the kids present their “reasons” on why they chose to place it the way they did. The oral presentations of reasons are the toughest and best part. There are two judging competitions during the year; one is at Cal Poly Pomona in March and the other is held at the Region 1 show in Del Mar in June. The top four scoring youth from those two competitions are then invited and receive a sponsored trip to the final Judging Contest at the US Arabian Nationals in Tulsa in October. Not only do the kids represent themselves and their region, they judge high quality horses that are competing at the pinnacle of their breed. The experience is unmatched and the youth learn poise, public speaking, and a greater appreciation for Arabian horses.

The AHASFV Board of Directors meets every other month at a local restaurant. Anyone may join the meetings if they would like to learn more about the club activities and ways in which they may want to get involved. Meeting locations and details are listed on the AHASFV website. We look forward to any inquiries into our programs and hope to welcome new folks!