AFHA Musical Ride Welcomes Young Riders

Featuring the first performance of the Youth Musical Ride at the AFHA 25th Anniversary show in Ponoka.


By Enny Van Aken

November, 2022


Fourteen years of dedication to a variety of show patterns, impressive performances, knowledgeable coaching by Colleen Organ, and established friendships on and around the Friesian horses: that is the essence of the AFHA musical ride.
No one wants this to end, yet the program calls for changes. Coach Colleen will pursue a different path and a few riders are ready to pass on the baton to the next generation. These facts started a conversation. Result: three ladies stepped forward (Loekie VanDobben, Janneke Poot, and Agnes Yzerman) to take on the position as "coach" to; to bring a group of young riders together and perform for the first time at the AFHA 25th Anniversary show in Ponoka.
To fill you in on the experiences from the young riders and their coaches, we asked them to share a few words with us.



Kadence (age 11) “It was a really good experience. It was kind of overwhelming with how many people were there, but once the musical ride started to go, it was a blast!”

Nyomi (age 14) “loved the practices, love the Friesian breed. I am bummed I couldn’t do the ride at the anniversary, because I broke my jaw falling off at a jump show. I was very proud to see my musical friends perform at the show.”

As always, someone took the bull by the horns, “We should organize a kid’s derby.” The news was spread. Invitations went out to potential riders and drivers. The AFHA opened up their derby course for this occasion. The result? On Friday, March 4, 2022 at 4.30 pm, the first kid’s derby in Central Alberta took place. 
The Muilwijk arena was buzzing; Horses, ponies, kids, parents, grandparents, family members and neighbors…..Riders and drivers (ages 4-14) were nervous but super excited!

Mekayla (age 11) “All the horses liked each other which helped a lot. Coaches were really nice, and didn't get mad when we made mistakes. Thanks to our coaches for teaching us the wonderful pattern and making us better riders. Hope we can it again.”

Melissa (age 13) “A great group of people, amazing coaches, and of course beautiful horses. I am super thankful to have been part of this amazing group.”

All  breeds were welcome. 14 youngsters signed up: 2 girls driving a single Friesian,

Willow (age 10) “The first thing in the show was some people singing the National Anthem. They rode in carriages into the arena and out. I started having butterflies in my stomach because I knew it was almost my turn. After that was the adults musical ride. They did some really cool stuff. My Oma was in it and she was riding the same horse I was going to ride. The kids musical ride was right after, so my Mom and my Oma had to quickly change the stirrup length and I got on. I was feeling really nervous now. When we got into the arena, there were a lot of people in the stands. We started our pattern and I was pretty focused the whole time. After we finished I was smiling a lot. It was really fun.”

1 girl riding a Friesian

Agnes (coach) “It makes me so happy to see a young generation loving the Friesian breed. The horses in the musical ride knew they had minors on board, so well behaved!”

Janneke (coach) “We started with a plan and a group of enthusiastic kids, with different levels of riding experience, not exactly knowing where we were going with this. After a few rides we sort of saw where we were going and that it didn’t really matter what level they were, it worked out, which was exciting to see. Also the horses were awesome! So we created the pattern which we actually stayed with till the end. It was a lot of fun teaching them. They took the lesson in as a sponge and over the summer there was a huge change in confidence and riding. The girls came up with the music which also helped with practicing and the horses reacted very positively to it. For me it was the first time I coached kids on horseback and I have to say I really enjoyed it, they were willing to work, listen and learn.”


Loekie (coach) “When I think back of our time on coaching the kids musical ride I can’t stop but smile. My heart was so full!! The girls loved to work towards perfection and were always ready to practice. Loved having Nynke, our one adult rider, on the team, and seeing the way the girls listened for her calls. When we rode our pattern they kept looking out for each other, helping each other, showing amazing teamwork. I Loved to work with the girls and I hope they keep riding. I also loved the idea that the adults welcomed the next generation of riders in a symbolic way”

Kees and Annie Muilwijk welcomed everyone. They walked the course with them.

Looking back:
The adult musical ride program called for changes.
The Anniversary Show opened up an opportunity.
Parents and Grandparents were supportive.
Friesian horses were available.
New people took on the challenge to coach the group.
Riders attended the practices with an eagerness to learn.
A pattern was created and on October 19, 2022, the “Kids Musical Ride” performed their first-ever show.
AFHA members today already have a truly energetic agenda, based on 25 years of solid leadership and a deep love for the Friesian horse breed.This new group of young riders adds a whole new chapter to their history. They definitely deserve a place within the club and we (and many other horse lovers with us) are looking forward to seeing them around in the future!

(Photo credit: Carrie Wagner and Miles Maldaner).

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Enny Van Aken is an AFHA member and regular writer for AFHA, owner of Friesian horses, avid driver in indoor and outdoor derbies, driver in the Alberta Quadrille, and a loving mother and grandmother.

Alberta Friesian Horse Association