Keystone Appaloosa Club Awards Annual 4-H Scholarships
Several years ago, the Keystone Appaloosa Club implemented a youth scholarship award aimed at supporting youth competitors who ride registered appaloosa horses at Pennsylvania 4-H shows. Each year, a high point English and Western Rider at the State 4-H show are named and they win a $500 scholarship that is to be used toward college or trade school.
The 2022 winner of the High Point English Rider is Caitlin Diffendal riding Speechless and the winner of the High Point Wester Rider is Ava Fedak riding PCE Lopin for Diamonds. Both riders ride with Blanket of Stars Farm and were representing Berks County.
In order to make it to the Pennsylvania State 4-H show, the horse and rider pair has to qualify through two other horse shows. The first show, called Round Up, is a competition among all the 4-H riders in the county. To move on to the regional qualifying show, a rider must place at least 3rd in their class. The next qualifying show is Regionals where the rider is competing with other riders from the district. The same rules apply at the regional show. The top three riders in a class move on to the State 4-H show. The state horse show is always in October at the Harrisburg Farm Show Complex.
Let’s meet our winners
Ava started riding when she was 4 years old at a western lesson barn. Her mount was a POA named Comanchee. She soon started to take lessons at a hunter jumper barn for several years. Ava’s mother had always had an interest in horses, and she wanted to share that with her daughter. When she was 7, Ava started to ride at Blanket of Stars farm with Tricia Sullivan. It was here that she was introduced to appaloosas. Ava wasn’t enjoying jumping at that time and wanted to try something different. Tricia and Boomer introduced her to pleasure horses and appaloosas.
Ava’s mount for 4-H this year was PCE Lopin for Diamonds (William). He is a very willing horse that always wants to please his rider. She said that he handles new things well as the state 4-H show was a new experience for him and he handled it fantastically.
Ava told us that the State 4-H show always has a positive atmosphere. People are always nice and helpful. She looks forward to the show each year. This year, Ava and William had very good goes, particularly in showmanship and horsemanship. In total, Ava showed in four classes, Western Grooming and Showmanship (15-18), Horsemanship (15-18), Senior Trail (14-18) ad Senior Western Pleasure (14-18). She and William were 5th in showmanship, trail and horsemanship and placed 8th in the pleasure class. All of her classes had between 25 and 30 entries so she was very happy with her placings. Placing so well in all her classes allowed her to win the KAC Scholarship for the Western Rider.
Caitlin started to ride when she was 6 years old. Her parents sent her to a summer riding camp and her love of riding began there. After the camp, she started to take weekly lessons, leased a horse, and just kept going from there. When she got her first pony, the family needed a place to board her. This is where they met Tricia Sullivan as they moved the pony to Blanket of Stars farm. After Caitlin outgrew her pony, she began to lease one of the Appaloosas on the farm, Buster, and showed him at 4-H shows and local ApHC shows.
This year, Caitlin leased and competed on Speechless (Graham). Graham is a fun horse to ride but more challenging than Buster. She said that he is very smart and makes his riders be very precise with their cues in order to get what they want from him. The 2022 show season had both rewarding and frustrating rides for Caitlin with Graham.
Caitlin always looks forward to the State 4-H show, even going to cheer on her friends when she hasn’t qualified in past years. It is a highly competitive show but has a really great atmosphere. This year, she was nervous to compete at the show since she and Graham had only been a riding team for 7 months. Despite that, Graham and Caitlin qualified for the state show in all four of her classes this year. She competed in English Grooming and Showmanship, Open Trail Horse, Hunt Seat Equitation and Breed Type Hunter Under Saddle.
Caitlin and Graham impressively were Reserve Champions in English Grooming and Showmanship, Open Trail Horse, and Breed Type Hunter under Saddle. The grand finale was winning the Championship in her Hunt Seat Equitation on the flat as this was the first year she ever qualified for the class. With such great placings, it is easy to see how Caitlin won the English Rider Scholarship.
For more information on the Keystone Appaloosa Club or their scholarship program, check out their website.