Congratulations to Ontario's 2017 (Youth/Am) AQHA Justin Rookie of the Year Award: Emily Yates/M

OQHA would like to send huge Congratulations to these two talented young ladies on achieving the Justin Rookie of the Year Award!!!

Ontario Youth Winner: Emily Yates

Emily Yates was born in 2006 and practically hit the floor riding. She started riding before she could walk and went to her first horse show at 4 months old in a front pack at Summerama.

Youth Winner Emily Yates

Her first horse was Star, a miniature pony. Then there was Gizmo the pony and then on to her first lead line horse named Vern ( Zips Miracle Version ). There was a single crash of thunder and lightning during her first lead line class. It spooked both Vern and Grandpa (Dale Cunningham) but all ended well with a class appreciation trophy. She soon moved on to Roper ( These R Te Facts ) for lead line and showmanship.

Grandma (Susan Cunningham) bought Emily her first all around walk jog horse. Emily and Levi (Coco Roan) won multiple year end awards.

Last year Emily had the privilege of riding Grandpa’s horse Miss Becky (RR I’m For Certain). It was a big step for Emily to move onto a new horse and into the walk, trot, canter classes. Her first show was the South River Fall Fair where she won the high point intermediate rider in 2016. Area 3 Spring Classic was her first AQHA walk trot canter show. Thinking this would be a trial year, because Miss Becky had only done Western Pleasure and Showmanship, it was hoped that Emily would gain in confidence and ability. However, she received her first All Around Youth Certificate and was Reserve HIgh point for 13 & under. She continued to be successful throughout the show year with the most exciting placings being 7th in the 11&under HUS and a finalist in Level 1 13&under at Congress. This was a great accomplishment for our Western Pleasure horse.

Emily had several coaches along the way. She started with Emily Pelangio as her local coach with the assistance of Melanie Cressman who coached her through her first year of walk jog with Coco Roan. In 2015, she started with Megan Sheppard as her local coach and Pat Chamberland and Andrew Dewar. She continues to be coached by Pat and Andrew for the 2018 show season.

Emily’s goals for this year involve making it onto the OYQHA Congress Team, showing at the Level 1 Championship Show, and showing at Congress.

Emily realizes that all of this success could not have happened without the love and support of her farm Grandma and Grandpa. She would like to thank them for that and she feels very lucky to be on this journey with Miss Becky.

Ontario Amateur Winner: Mackenzie Burns

Mackenzie has literally grown up around horses. Born and raised in a little town outside of Ottawa, there have been horses in her back yard since the day she was born. Her parents are both emergency first responders, (Dad is a firefighter, mom is a police officer), but they also own and operate a private boarding facility on their farm in Navan. She got her first pony at the ripe old age of three, and began formal riding lessons at eight, starting in the hunter/jumper world. She showed lesson horses at local riding school shows, eventually moving on to train her home bred horse, sired by the late Ontario stallion The Next Star, “I’m So Next”, aka Frankie, to jump and competed successfully with her in local hunter jumper events. In 2014, Mackenzie was chosen to represent Carleton University’s Equestrian Team, and competed with them for two years. The competition consisted of drawing the name of a horse out of a hat, being able to watch it perform with another rider, mounting, getting led to the entry gate, and then being required to jump a hunter course, without any warm up. Mackenzie loved the challenge of riding new horses; mom watched through her hands while holding her breath and wishing the round to be over.

Finally, in 2015, after years of convincing by her mother to put the jumps away, and after coming to AQHA shows as “Mom’s groom” for years, Mackenzie decided to try the “quarter horse thing”. Her mom quickly gave up her show horse, “Luvin Me” (aka George) before she changed her mind, and the two have never looked back.

Amateur Winner Mackenzie Burns

Knowing she had a lot of catching up to do, Mackenzie decided to jump in with both feet. After University finished the following April, she gave up her job, and left her friends and family to move to Orillia and spent the next two summers riding with Stanton Show Horses. There, Mackenzie and George learned the intricacies of trail, showmanship, and horsemanship. The two racked up enough points that year to win the Ontario High Point Rookie Amateur award. That year, they showed at the Congress for the first time.

In May 2017, the two travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina and competed in the East AQHA Level 1 Championships, placing fourth in trail, and being a finalist in the Horsemanship.

That summer, Mackenzie and George successfully showed in the Novice Amateur events, winning the Ontario High Point Novice Amateur award. To her surprise, Mackenzie became aware that she was leading the points for the Ontario AQHA Justin Rookie of the Year award in the fall of that year.

The Congress came and went in a blurr, with respectable rides in horsemanship and trail, and were very close to a call back for the showmanship in a very deep class!

Mackenzie and George are turning their attention now to their 2018 show year, which promises to be filled with good people and good horses.

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