WATCHING CHILDREN GROW...
In 1985, Skip Parker of Carrollton, Texas was invited to meet a man from Australia at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to discuss kids and American Quarter Horses. The gentlemen’s conversation ended that day with Parker agreeing to gather a team of youth from the United States and take them to Australia to participate in the 1986 International Youth Quarter Horse World Cup. That summer the United States team traveled to the land of kangaroos for a week of education, camaraderie and competition. Little did Parker know that his adventures down under would connect him to an event that would become like his own child to nourish, foster and encourage.
Being the newcomer in Australia and not really knowing what to expect, Parker eagerly volunteered to host the next International Youth Quarter Horse World Cup in Fort Worth, Texas. (The event is held every two years and is hosted by a different country each time.) The World Cup committee, consisting of a representative from each participating country, unanimously agreed to meet again in the Lone Star state in 1988. With the local support of Wrangler and many dedicated Texas Quarter Horse members, the 1988 World Cup was a monumental success.
From 1988, Parker had continued to serve as the ringleader coordinating host countries, soliciting sponsors, organizing educational seminars and assisting the World Cup committee with routine tasks of implementing such a global event. It was in 1996 in Flagstaff that the thought of passing the torch first crossed his mind. “I had reached the point where I couldn’t do any more than I was already doing but I wanted the program to continue to be the success it had always been,” Parker said. With AQHA staff in full force at the Arizona event, it was the perfect setting to sit down with the entire World Cup committee and look at what opportunities were available for the continuation of the program.
Fast forward to March 1997 in Dallas, Texas. The event’s most illustrious leaders including Canadian AQHA Director Emeritus Genevieve Matheson, AQHA Youth Activities Committee member Antonio Giraudini of Italy, and of course, Parker, who was also a member of the AQHA Youth Activities Committee, converged at the 1997 AQHA Convention to take a closer look at how AQHA and the International Youth Quarter Horse World Cup could team up for the event to continue to grow.
After several more meetings and many months of discussion it was agreed that AQHA would shoulder the management responsibilities of the World Cup. Now, almost eleven years after initial talks, AQHA is busily planning this very successful addition to their list of youth programs.
A varied combination of teams have traveled thousands of miles to take part in what has been called “the most educational and culturizing event for youth ever to enter the equine industry.”
AQHA Youth World Cup competitions have been hosted by:
Alberta, Canada in 1990
Australia in 1992
Germany in 1994
Flagstaff, Arizona in 1996
Amarillo, Texas in 1998
Italy in 2000
Amarillo, Texas in 2002
Australia in 2004
Amarillo, Texas in 2006
Ontario, Canada in 2008
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2010
Kreuth, Germany in 2012
College Station/Bryant, Texas in 2014
Tamworth, NSW, Australia in 2016
AQHYA Youth World Cup events have been held twice in Canada, in 1990 in Alberta and in 2008 in Ontario. Up to sixteen countries enter teams of five youth riders plus one coach and/or manager, who take part in educational seminars, specific discipline clinics, leadership training and finally, competition. Up to five additional non-competing youth from each country may also be invited by their International AQHA Affiliate to attend the educational and leadership portions of the week’s events. Just as importantly, all individuals attending the week’s programs have the opportunity to share in different cultures, meet peers from opposite ends of the earth and make their world seem just a little bit smaller.
The child that Skip Parker so fondly nourished, fostered and encouraged grew to be mature, successful and self sufficient. It is what all good parents wish for their children...and what all good parents like Parker should be commended for.