Fairfield, CT. - Lily Atkinson, an Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association team member at Michigan State University (MSU), has been selected to compete at the 2018 American Quarter Horse (AQHA) Youth World Cup in College Station, Texas, June 28-July 8. The international event is held every two years. Riders from 19 teams from around the globe will compete for the chance to earn gold medals for their countries.
Atkinson is a 19-year-old first-year student at MSU from Spring Lake, Michigan, studying Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine. She hopes to pursue a career in Equine Sports Medicine.
“I am so grateful to be selected for Team USA and to be surrounded by some of the greatest horsemen, women and leaders that AQHA has to offer,” Atkinson said. “I am excited to spend two weeks in College Station this summer, getting to know people from different countries, partaking in clinics and leadership activities, and of course, for the competition."
Lily Atkinson competing in Open Reining at an IHSA show. Photo by Eminent Equine
Five youth members and a coach or manager make up the teams from each country. American Quarter Horse Youth Association members representing their home countries will take part in 11 days of educational seminars, specific discipline clinics, leadership training and competition. Five additional young people from each country also are invited by each affiliate to attend the education and leadership portion of the week’s events.
Throughout the competition, each country will ride for gold medals in cutting, reining, horsemanship, ranch riding, trail, hunt seat equitation, hunter under saddle and showmanship. To level the playing field, competing Youth World Cup team members do not show their own horses. Similar to the IHSA format, the host country provides each team's horses for clinics and competition. AQHA calls on AQHA professionals and owners to supply horses for the event with high-quality, well-trained American Quarter Horses. Atkinson’s experience competing in the IHSA is great preparation for the event.
“This year was my first year showing IHSA for the MSU Equestrian Team,” Atkinson said. “I show in the Open Horsemanship and Reining classes and I was blessed to qualify for regionals in Reining.”
Atkinson has been an AQHA/Michigan Quarter Horse Association (MQHA) member for five years. She owns two horses she shows on the AQHA circuit, Invitations Are Good or “Truman” whom she shows in the All-Around: Showmanship, Equitation, HUS, Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Trail and Western riding events. In 2015, they were the Top Rookies in both the Equitation and the Horsemanship in the nation and in 2017 they were top-ten at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in the Open Youth Equitation.
Her other horse, Mighty Pretty Storm or “Harley,” she shows in the Barrels, Poles, Stakes Races and Jumping events. Together, they have been champion in the Level 1 Stakes Race and Reserve All-Around at the Novice Championships East. In 2017, they placed ninth in the Level 2 Stakes Race and 11th in the Level 3 Timed Jumping at the AQHYA World Show.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect (competing in the IHSA), especially because I dove right into the deep end—the Open Horsemanship and Reining,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to win both my Open classes at the very first show winning High Point Rider. IHSA gives you a unique and challenging opportunity to take horses you don’t know and show them to the best of your ability. Every ride teaches you something, and I think that is pretty special.”
When Atkinson is not studying or riding horses, she is involved as a leadership team member and currently serves as the American Quarter Horse Youth Association Region 4 director and MQHYA president.
For more information on the 21st American Quarter Horse Youth World Cup, visit www.ywc2018.com.