Ontario Amateur is Accepted in to the AQHLead Class of 2023 Program


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Photo Credit: Nika Parsoni

Mallory McKewen of Burford, Ontario says that growing up with horses shaped her as a person, and that continuing to have them in her life gives her purpose. So, when the opportunity came to apply for the American Quarter Horse Association’s “AQHLead” program late last year, it was an opportunity that she eagerly capitalized on. 


The American Quarter Horse Association developed the AQHLead program back in 2008 in order to develop the future leaders of the Quarter Horse Industry. CQHA’s current first vice president Laurie Haughton in an alumnus of the program and was excited to learn that McKewen had been accepted to the program. “I’ve known Malory since she was a youth competitor and have watched her in recent years assume more responsibilities with the Ontario Quarter Horse Association, such as spearheading the association’s virtual horse shows held during covid and taking on the role as the province’s youth advisor, so I personally know that she is exactly the type of member that AQHA hopes to attach with the AQHLead program. She’s dedicated, motivated and has skills that our industry needs as we step into the future,” said Haughton.


AQHLead is designed for young adults, ages 19-34, to help support their development as young leaders in the equine industry. During the program, participants attend leadership-focused webinars to provide additional insights into AQHA and the industry. They have the opportunity to partner with a mentor from the American Quarter Horse industry to learn about their mentor’s leadership activities in service to AQHA and the equine industry, and benefit from gaining more insight into their roles in impacting the industry. 


When asked to tell us why this specific program appealed to her, she told us “It’s in the barn while mindlessly cleaning stalls and reflecting where I come up with my most innovative ideas and solutions to problems which are key both in my career and as a community servant. And it’s in the saddle where I become grounded again, and suddenly my anxieties escape me.


For the past few years, I’ve said and deeply felt that “I hope to learn enough in the first half of
my life, to spend the second half teaching and giving back.” I’m still in the first half of my life and have a ton to learn (I believe we all keep learning and changing until the day we die), but I’m starting to give back as a volunteer in areas where I’ve gained enough experience to be valuable.”


The CQHA welcomed McKewen as a new member of two of its committees in January, the youth committee and the officials and professional development committee, her professional skills , experience as a provincial youth advisor and the knowledge she has gained as a ring steward/scribe at AQHA shows in the past years will be of great value to both these committees,


On behalf of the Canadian Quarter Horse Community, we would like to wish Mallory much success as she begins her AQHLead journey, and we strongly encourage other young Canadians with a passion for our horses to learn more about the program by visiting www.aqha.com/aqhlead.


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