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NYCHA Photo and Essay Contest Winners Announced

NCHA Press Release

(Fort Worth, TX)—The National Youth Cutting Horse Association announced the winners of the 2004 NYCHA photo and essay contest during the youth convention held in Fort Worth. “The essay contest encourages the youth members to be involved in more than just horseback activities,” said Danette McGuire, youth coordinator. “Through their involvement with horses, the members learn and demonstrate life skills including responsibility, patience, perseverance, trust, appreciation, courage, and sportsmanship. This year’s topic, Everything I need to know I learned from my horse, gave members an opportunity to express that knowledge in writing.”

First and second place in each age division received gift certificates from NCHA corporate sponsors, KO Trading. The one overall winner received a $500 scholarship from NYCHA. Marli Claytor, of Cushing, OK, was first place in the 9-12 division. Hico, TX youth, Sage Nix was second. In the 13-15 age division, Lauren Grassman of Fort Jones, CA was first place with Jessica Bagley of Taylors, SC placing second. Heather Raftery of Green Valley, AZ, was first place in the age 16 and over division with Samantha Biller of Tulare, CA placing second.

Heather Raftery was the winner of the overall essay contest with her essay highlighting “The Most Unexpected Teachers”. The following is an excerpt from her essay.

From the first moment of life, you learn from everything around you—from your parents, from your environment, from your very actions and from each of these, you learn about everything else. The world is an unbroken circle. From my horses, a single aspect of my life, I have learned about life itself. From them, I learned how to learn, from their eyes, I see where the joy of life exists. From their love, I understand how truly thankful I should be for every moment and every thing. This relationship between my horses and myself is something really special. It is something so amazing and beautiful that there are no words that can truly explain it all. It just is.

The top three photo contest winners also received gift certificates from KO Trading and one overall winner received a $500 scholarship from NYCHA. In the age 13 years and under category, Marli Claytor of Cushing, OK was first place. McKenzie Mullins of Gordon, TX, won second place and Casey Barton of Elko, NV, won third place. In the age 14 years and over category, Kelsey Weeks of Artesia Wells, TX was first, Mishael Claytor of Cushing, OK was second, and Stephanie Cosca of Friant, CA was third. The overall winner was Kelsey Weeks.

Youth have been competing on cutting horses probably as long as there have been competitions. In 1993, the National Youth Cutting Horse Association was formed to offer youth members the opportunity to develop both their horsemanship and their leadership skills. The National Youth Cutting Horse Association is made up of more than 1,300 members across the United States with a wide range of backgrounds. In 2004, the NYCHA gave out more than $215,000 in scholarship money. A substantial amount of the scholarship money is raised through the Stallion Service Program and personal donations.

To learn more about the National Youth Cutting Horse Association and the sport of cutting, call 817-244-6188 or visit