Young rider provides home for Rue
When Madison Tornio-Belisle heard about the Young Horse Development Project, offered by the American Quarter Horse Association, she jumped at the chance to apply - but her expectations were low.
The program offers free weanlings to youth nationwide to further young people's education of horse training, care and health.
When the 15-year-old New Richmond High School sophomore heard that she had been selected as one of the 13 members nationwide to receive a foal, she couldn't believe it.
More than 60 youth applied for the young horse development program, according to Brandon Black, manager of special programs for the American Quarter Horse Association.
Tornio-Belisle's filly, Miss Cosomos Buena (known as Rue at the Tornio-Belisle household), came from the Lauing Mill Iron L Ranch in Sturgis, S.D. Denny and Doris Lauing, owners of the ranch, will act as mentors to Tornio-Belisle through the program.
Originally, Tornio-Belisle was to be awarded a sorrel stallion; however, the young colt was injured just before he was to be picked up. The 6-month-old Miss Cosomos Buena was his replacement.
"She was a horse they were going to keep for themselves," Tornio-Belisle said of Miss Cosomos Buena.
As part of the application process, Tornio-Belisle was required to write a 200-word essay explaining why she wanted a weanling. In her eassay, Tornio-Belisle wrote, "While other kinds my age are on their phones, computers or hanging out with their friends, I am home training with my horses. It is the most important part of my life, besides my formal education."
Tornio-Belisle began riding when she was 4 years old, said Tammy Belisle, her mother. She bought her first quarter horse when she was 8 years old after raising $1,000 from selling handmade headbands. At age 12, Tornio-Belisle started her own business, Hearts & Hooves Riding Lessons, where she teaches students the basics of riding and game patterns. She's involved in high school rodeo, the National Barrel Horse Association, 4-H, and is an officer with New Richmond FFA.
"And she spends all her free time looking for horses to buy," Tammy Belisle said with a laugh. "That's why, when I got an email about this project, I told her about it."
As part of the process, Tornio-Belisle will be tasked with documenting her training and management practices in an attempt to win scholarship money for college. She's planning to attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she'll study large animal veterinary science. Tornio-Belisle will also be required to show Miss Cosmos Bueno at an American Quarter Horse Association, 4-H, FFA or other local show in a novice or introductory type of halter or showmanship type class.
Tornio-Belisle said she's so far been impressed with Miss Cosmos Bueno.
"She was just pulled off her mom and put in a stall before coming here," she said. "She's hardly been handled but she's really calm and tame."
She said she hopes to train Miss Cosmos Bueno to be a rodeo horse.
For more information on the Young horse Development Project, visit http://www.aqha.com/aqhya/content-pages/activities/young-horse-developme....