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A Family Bond

by Sara Pizzuto

The Youth of the Year contest tests the skills of young equestrian each year at the Morgan Grand National. Selina Cloutier had the honor of winning this prestigious competition in 1998, and this year, her daughter Clea is competing for the same title.


The four-phase competition consists of a written exam, a judging component, an oral presentation, and a ridden or driven pattern. Selina became involved with the contest through Kay Thompson and her Highover Morgans. Not too many years after being crowned Youth of the Year in Oklahoma City, Selina was asked to run the event at the Maine Morgan Horse Show. Soon, daughter Clea was interested in following in her mother’s footsteps.


“I didn’t want to force her into doing it,” Selina said. “But she really wanted to do it from the get go, and we eased her into the competition. This is her first year to be eligible to be in the finals, and to win at New England and then come here is amazing. I’m very proud.”


Clea says that she has worked diligently perfecting all four aspects of the contest.


“I’ve been riding all the time because the pattern is really important,” she said. “For the judging, I just judge every class I watch, and I think that’s really helped because I’ve developed opinions on what I like and see in the ring. For the test, I study all the time, and that’s probably the easiest part for me. The speech is my weakest point and I’ve tried in school to figure out how to do it best by presenting in class.”


Regardless of the outcome, both Clea and Selina are happy to share this passion together. “It’s really cool especially because my mom has done it,” Clea said.


Participants will gather in center ring on the final Saturday evening of the horse show for the crowning of this year’s Youth of the Year.


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