January 24, 2017

A Sense of Belonging

When it’s too cold to spend a lot of time at the barn, it’s a great time to go online and do horse-related research/reading. Equine organizations have a ton of interesting information, and many of them offer student, youth, or junior memberships. Think about what you do with horses or where you live, and I bet there is an organization for you.

These are just some of the organizations I’ve joined:

American Horse Council (AHC), Student Member

American Horse Publications (AHP), Student Member

American Youth Horse Council (AYHC), Youth Student Leader Member

Maryland Horse Council (MHC), Youth Member

Maryland Horse Shows Association (MHSA), Junior Member

United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), Competing Member

United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), Competing Member 

MHC logo

Clearly, my favorite membership organization is the Maryland Horse Council. According to its website, “MHC protects and promotes the horse industry by providing a united voice in the Maryland state legislature and state agencies, by interacting with the media and the general public, and by keeping its members informed on issues that affect them and their horses.” I found MHC online and joined because I was interested in finding out more about the horse industry in Maryland. I am also very interested in advocacy organizations, so joining MHC was an easy decision for me, and annual Youth Member dues are only $5.

Through MHC, I have met some of the most interesting people who encourage and inspire me. Kathleen Tabor is an attorney specializing in Maryland equine law who described her field of practice and even signed my copy of her book for me. And of course my mentor, Valerie Ormond, has been incredible. As a published writer, she is an amazing role model and her support has been extraordinary. I am proud to be an MHC youth member and think you should join too!


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The American Horse Council just began accepting student memberships this month for high school and college students, and I was their very first student member. According to the AHC press release:

“The involvement of youth in our industry is critical to its future. We felt that it was important to expose students to the issues in Washington, DC and how the federal government can impact the industry they love,” said Julie Broadway, AHC President. “The AHC is excited to offer this new membership and we are looking forward to helping educate the next generation.”

AHC is also offering student internships this year, and you can find out more about those opportunities for high school and college students here.

Joining an organization (or two or three) is sometimes required for competition, like the United States Equestrian Federation or the High School Rodeo Association. But they often have other membership benefits as well, such as access to members-only web pages, newsletters, and purchasing discounts. Some organizations have awards, scholarships, and internships too, so explore the organizations that are involved with your interests and consider some memberships!


Holden Rafey Bio Pic

My name is Holden Rafey, and I am honored to be serving as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I will be posting monthly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information of interest to MHC youth members. I live in Montgomery County and attend Walter Johnson High School, where I play softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to being the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I am also serving a second term on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and was proud to see lots of Maryland barns represented at Barn Night!

Read 3413 times Last modified on April 17, 2017