For three years, I’ve served as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent, learning so much and having many great experiences. From the people I’ve met to the places I’ve gone, producing this blog has been an adventure!
In August, I am leaving Maryland for New York City to study at Barnard College of Columbia University. Looking back at my first blog post, I wrote about the American Horse Council’s “Going to College” panel presentation as part of their National Issues Forum in 2015. What I learned that day has helped me make plans to continue riding next year, and I look forward to joining the Columbia University Equestrian Club and plan to compete on the club’s Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) Show Team. Yes, even a college in New York City has a show team.
I have had the opportunity to do some really cool things and go to some awesome places because of this blog. I served as an extra in the movie Christmas Ranch, filmed in Maryland, about a rebellious girl sent to stay on her grandmother’s horse ranch for Christmas and the bond she forms with her grandmother’s pony. I visited Days End Farm Horse Rescue and learned about their efforts to save abused and neglected horses and the volunteer opportunities available to youth. I was also chosen to serve as the American Horse Council’s first student intern where I helped with their advocacy efforts and even attended a meeting on Capitol Hill in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.
On the set of “Christmas Ranch” (photo by Holden Rafey)
Meeting a foal born at DEFHR (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
I have met many interesting people and animals through the blog. I met Secretariat’s great-granddaughter, Judge Luci, at Second Chances Farm located at the Central Maryland Correctional Facility; I spoke with Maryland-based filmmaker Douglas B. Maddox who directed and produced the film Christmas Ranch; andI was very fortunate to interview Olympic gold medalist Joe Fargis.
Secretariat’s great-granddaughter, Judge Luci (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
Interviewing Joe Fargis (photo courtesy of Holden Rafey)
Through my research for the blog, I have also come across great organizations and resources. I learned about ways horses help humans through organizations such as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl), which helps to promote the benefits of equine therapy, and Horses Healing Maryland’s Military (HHMM), an organization that helps veterans suffering from PTSD using equine therapy here in Maryland. I also shared information on organizations such as the Maryland Fund for Horses, which provides resources for horses to prevent neglect.
Through this blog, we have discovered many horse-related service opportunities and efforts here in Maryland. I hope, like me, you have gained knowledge and maybe found a new place to volunteer or issues for which to advocate. I hope you continue to read the Maryland Horse Council’s (MHC’s) Youth Members Blog because there are still many more horse related subjects in Maryland to be covered and opportunities to be discovered.
Horses have been a major part of my life, and they are very important to me. Even while living in New York City, I plan to stay connected to the horse world. I encourage you, if they are important to you as well, to stay involved no matter where you are. As this blog has shown, there is so much going on in the horse world in addition to riding.
As time allows and the opportunity presents itself, I hope to contribute an occasional post to the MHC Youth Members Blog. Now that the Maryland Horse Council publishes The Equiery, and the publication has an intern program, the MHC Youth Members Blog will be in good hands for the future.
ABOUT OUR BLOGGER:
My name is Holden Rafey, and I have served as the Maryland Horse Council’s Youth Correspondent for the past three years. As the MHC Youth Correspondent, I posted regularly to this blog about horse-related topics in the state of Maryland to give a youth perspective and share information of interest to MHC youth members and young readers. I grew up in Montgomery County and attended Walter Johnson High School, where I played softball and field hockey. My equestrian trainer is Melinda Cohen, and I ride at her barn, Dream Catcher Farm, in Frederick County. In addition to having served as the Youth Correspondent for the MHC, I served three terms on the Washington International Horse Show Junior Committee and had an internship with the American Horse Council. I will attend Barnard College in the fall and plan to ride with the Columbia University Equestrian Club.