A.J. Kendrick, 19, has been showing horses since he was 9 years old. “My parents grew up and have stayed involved in the equine industry, so I have always been around horses.” He explains “I have a natural love of competition, so I was very open to the idea of showing from a young age.”
For the last four years of his 4-H career, A.J. showed his registered Quarter Horse Etched in Details, though A.J. prefers to call him Simon. As for his coach, A.J. leaned most heavily on his mom. “She grew up showing and has continued to pass her knowledge down to me and my brother.” A.J. says.
For the Kendrick’s, the first step in a great routine, is nutrition. “My family has been feeding Hi-Pro Horse Feeds for about 4 years and we have absolutely loved their products for all of our horses. We initially started feeding Hi-Pro Feeds when I learned about their Senior feed at our state 4-H horse show and wanted to test out a new feed for Simon, who is getting older.” A.J. explains “Aside from their quality feed products, I like Hi-Pro because of their scholarship opportunities and for the fact that they are giving back to the youth that are buying their products.”
The next part of their winning routine is time in the practice ring…lots of time in the practice ring. “When I am practicing, I mainly focus on keeping my horse in shape.” He says “This includes stretching his legs out, trotting and cantering while working on my equitation. We go over a few jumps each time.”
This practice schedule can vary, but definitely ramps up to 5-6 times a week when competitions are approaching. Such a dedicated routine can be daunting for a busy high school student, but A.J. says it’s all worth it. “I truly enjoy everything about showing horses. From the behind the scenes work to the showering!” he says, and also mentions the lifelong friendships he has made, and the lessons he has learned from the hard work and time management required to be a strong competitor.
This year, 2022, was different from past years, and bittersweet, as it was A.J.’s last year competing before graduation. “I wanted to make sure to soak in every moment I could with my 4-H friends and family, and not take any of the opportunities I was given for granted.”
That mindfulness paid off when A.J. won the over fences division at the Texas State 4-H horse show. “I was beyond excited to find out that I had won my division. There were some extremely competitive riders and horses that I had to go against.” He says, “Knowing that I was able to keep up with them and win for my senior year was an amazing feeling.”
Hi-Pro Feeds is proud to support enterprising youth in agriculture! For more information on our horse feeds, click here. To see if you can qualify for a 4-H horse show scholarship, click here.