Reining Horse Foundation Expands Scholarship Awards for 20th Anniversary

Traditionally, eight scholarships totaling $13,000 have been given each year to promising young National Reining Horse Youth Association members based on financial need, academic achievement, career plans, NRHA/NRHyA involvement, extracurricular activities, and references. To celebrate the Reining Horse Foundation’s 20th anniversary in 2021, the decision was made to award every applicant. This includes four additional scholarships of $500 each.

Longtime RHF Scholarship Committee chairman Mike Hancock was key in this decision. He said, “We are excited that we can provide scholarships for all our 2021 applicants. It is a great way to help them as well as the Reining Horse Foundation as we celebrate our 20th year. This was a great bunch of youth; our world and our sport are in good hands!”

These RHF Scholarships are awarded in addition to NRHyA Affiliate Regional Scholarships, Varsity Reining Club, and special program scholarships such as the CINCH® Speaking Contest. In total, more than $40,000 in academic funds is offered annually by the RHF, financed mostly by private donors and NRHyA fundraisers.

Olivia Klug

Olivia Klug is the 18-year-old daughter of Andrew and Lynette Klug of Columbus, Neb. She received a $2,500 scholarship with which she plans to pursue an Animal Science degree from Oklahoma State University.

Klug has been inspired by many, but one figure in her life stands out, “One person who has really inspired me in the last few years is the NRHA Youth Manager, Sara Honegger. Her passion for the NRHA and the horse industry has inspired me so much. She is a great example of working hard toward what you want. Watching her has really helped me to work harder toward my goals.”

For the past seven years, Klug has been an active member of both the North Central Reining Horse Association and the Central Plains Reining Horse Association. She has held several NRHyA officer positions since 2017 including vice president, treasurer, delegate, and is currently president. She is active in her state 4-H chapter, the American Quarter Horse Association and was also a Nebraska Agriculture Youth Institution delegate.

Klug is grateful for the opportunities she has had through her involvement in NRHyA. She said, “I feel very honored to receive this scholarship. The RHF has been a major supporter in my life through their support of NRHyA, especially since I’ve been on the officer team for the past several years. I really appreciate the opportunity to grow my leadership skill sets, and I have a deep sense of gratitude for the investment that they have made to my future career. It really means a lot to me.”

She went on to thank her parents for allowing her to be involved in the horse industry, her trainer Serena Siebrandt for helping her become the rider she is and for inspiring her to keep showing, and NRHyA for helping her develop leadership skills to expand her horizons.

Morgan Ritz

Nineteen-year-old Morgan Ritz is studying Secondary English Education at Colorado Christian University and plans to be a middle school English teacher. She lives in Comstock, Neb. with her parents, Sterling and Deborah Ritz.

Ritz’s inspiration came from her father’s role during the coronavirus pandemic. “He had to sit down and teach me math a lot, and although math is not my favorite subject, he was very patient with me. He also taught me other things in life, like seeing the value of teachers and teaching others by example. I want to follow in his footsteps because even though he is not in the education field, he is still a great teacher.” She added, “It was a struggle at first, but in the long run it helped me appreciate all that I had and all I was blessed with.”

With this $2,500, Ritz is now a two-time RHF Scholarship recipient, having claimed her first in 2020. “Receiving this scholarship means a lot to me. I feel blessed for the opportunity to apply for it and to be chosen as a recipient. I appreciate the support I have always had in my youth career in NRHA, and they still care about my future. That means a lot to me. It again shows me how blessed I am to be part of this organization,” Ritz said.

During high school, she was involved in FFA, 4-H, AQHYA, and NRHyA. She was also in the National Honor Society, Student Council, and Science Olympiad. In addition to academic activities, she competed in cross country and track and field events. In her spare time, Ritz volunteered at the church nursery, youth group, FFA trash pickup, and the 4-H Community Garden, among others.

Penelope Jae (P.J.) Tubaugh

Seventeen-year-old Penelope Jae (P.J.) Tubaugh earned a $2,500 scholarship that she plans to use at the University of Montana Western. In April, she completed a spring semester internship at Tamarack Ranch in Joseph, Oregon, for college credit.

Tubaugh resides in Livingston, Mont. with her mother, Jordan Aller. She said, “While the reining industry as a whole inspires me, I am most inspired by the professionals and individuals who are working to change it for the better, and who hold the industry to a high standard. After working at Tamarack Ranch, I am also very inspired by Gabe and Susi Hutchins. They have shown me an amazing example of how things should be run and how to always keep the horse’s best interest in mind.”

Tubaugh plans to major in Business Administration and minor in Equine Management with the hope of managing the breeding at an equine facility. She said, “My mom was a single mother and raised me with no financial support from my father, so this scholarship means less money for her to have to pitch in to help me, hopefully, get my dream job after the large amount she has already contributed to help me chase my dreams all these years.” She is an active member of the Yellowstone Reining Horse Association and the Montana Reining Horse Association and was a 4-H Club president having won multiple grand and reserve championships with various projects.

Tubaugh had a long list of people to thank for her success. She said, “First, I would like to thank my family. They have supported and backed me up no matter what and have always been there to keep me motivated. My grandpa, Steve Aller, has been my biggest supporter when it comes to my reining horse and showing. I would also like to thank all of my reining horse family including the Anderson family, Kreistal, Ryan, Jay Dee and Jan. Lastly, I would like to thank Tamarack Ranch for helping to make this scholarship possible. Gabe and Susi were vital in this process, and I could not have done it without them and their breeding manager, Stephanie Compton.”

Olivia Badgley

After sustaining an injury after a stirrup broke while jumping, 17-year-old Olivia Badgley spent a lot of time with an orthopedic surgeon who inspired her to become an orthopedic physician’s assistant. She also had a biology teacher whom she credits with instilling a love for biochemistry and biology.

Badgley lives in Hillard, Ohio, with her mother, Rene Badgley, and plans to use her $1,500 scholarship to major in Biology. She said “It is a huge honor to be considered for this scholarship, as I have only been a NRHA member for a few years now. I am honored to have been selected to receive one of the scholarships. While doing the essay, and from what I have read, I value everything that the association is built on.”

Badgley is the Western Representative for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Western National Youth Board where she has twice won the IEA Sportsmanship award. She is also a member of the Young Riders 4-H Club, and the Dare Equestrian IEA Team. In school, she was a member of the National Honor Society and Hillard Darby Key Club. Having played the violin since the 5th grade, she was also a musician in the Symphonic and Concert Orchestra.

In her free time, Badgley volunteers her time to food preparation for the Manna Café Homeless shelter, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, 4-H Horse Partnership, Franklin County Fair Cleanup, and Santa’s Visit Pictures.

Olivia thanked her trainer, Patrick Schwartz, by saying, “When we met, he introduced me to reining and made me fall in love with it. He also led me to find my horse. He was a huge part of finding my love for reining.”

Allison Schweller

The youngest of four children, Allison Schweller has her heart set on becoming a cardiovascular surgeon. The 18-year-old daughter of Randall and Nancy Schweller is involved in the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) where she placed in the top 10 at regionals twice in Medical Innovations and once in Medical Photography.

Schweller was Ambassador Leader for a medical summit at Johns Hopkins University. “My inspiration came from my four years of taking a [Project Lead The Way] class for biomedical sciences. We explored all different categories such as heart parts, brain locations and functions. One other deciding factor was when I was nominated to attend the medical summit at Johns Hopkins University. During the summit, we had an activity that stimulated suturing. It came so naturally to me that the doctor insisted that I try a more difficult suture.”

She is also a member of the Midwest Reining Horse Association, the Indiana Reining Horse Association, and the Illinois Reining Horse Association as well as her local 4-H Horse and Pony Club, a drill team and Key Club.

Schweller will make good use of the $1,500 RHF Scholarship as she is currently enrolled at Valparaiso University. She said, “This scholarship puts me one step closer to accomplishing my career goals without the heavy burden of student loan debt. I’m very grateful and honored to receive this scholarship.” She added, “I would like to thank my parents, my grandparents, Dennis and Vicky Schweller, and Juanita and Raymond Bellis, and my trainer, Corey Wilson. The countless hours they’ve dedicated into ensuring my success inside and outside of the arena are never taken for granted. They push me to continuously reach for the stars. I wouldn’t be the rider nor the person I am without any of these lovely people.”

Naomi Allyssa Ornelles

For as long as she can remember, Naomi Allyssa Ornelles has loved horses. The 17-year-old resident of Granbury, Texas, is president of her FFA Chapter and a former secretary. She has enjoyed membership in the Appaloosa Horse Club, American Paint Horse Association, and the American Quarter Horse Association. In her younger years, she competed in 4-H with the Young Riders Club and judging team.

Riding with Temple’s +1 Performance Horses Show Team, she earned ApHC world championships in Ranch Reining and Boxing and two reserve world championships in reining on the first horse she was able to buy with her own money. Recently, her FFA Horse Judging team won the Houston Livestock Show Horse Judging Contest. She keeps her knowledge honed by volunteering as a scribe at local horse shows.

Ornelles’ interest in reining began when she first visited her aunt, Leslie Temple’s, facility. “I saw my aunt riding one of her reiners in the arena and she said, ‘Let me show you something.’ She ran down the fence and stopped, and I fell in love with the sport. She taught me everything I know.” She noted. “Also, my great grandma was one of the first female jockeys back in the day, so I’m definitely driven to be like the people I looked up to.” Ornelles intends to make her love of horses a career by using her $1,000 RHF Scholarship to pursue an Animal Science degree on her way to becoming an equine veterinarian.

“I originally wanted to become an all-around livestock vet until we lost a yearling filly to strangles. Since then, I’ve especially wanted to work with horses. They are amazing, beautiful creatures and I want to do all I can to be sure they are healthy, happy, and comfortable,” she said. “I was beyond excited to receive that letter. I am very grateful for the Reining Horse Foundation’s help in pursuing my dreams. I am also so happy to have a horse foundation step up to help me give back to the horse industry.” She also thanked her parents, Steven & Heidi Ornelles, and her Aunt Leslie.

Riding with Temple’s +1 Performance Horses Show Team, she earned ApHC world championships in Ranch Reining and Boxing and two reserve world championships in reining on the first horse she was able to buy with her own money. Recently, her FFA Horse Judging team won the Houston Livestock Show Horse Judging Contest. She keeps her knowledge honed by volunteering as a scribe at local horse shows.

Kate Lilley

Hailing from Weatherford, Texas, Kate Lilley has been a member of the South Texas Reining Horse Association since she was about 10 and comes from a reining family; Greg Lilley, her father, is a successful Non Pro. Her mother, Kristen Lilley, is an NRHA and AQHA judge. Lilley competed at the state level in 4-H, in the North Texas High School Rodeo Association, and qualified for the National High School Rodeo Association Finals in reined cow horse.

The 17-year-old senior completed dual classes at Weatherford High School, so she  graduated with a year of college credits already under her belt. She participated on the Student Council, the Sports Medicine Staff, and Health Occupation Students of America. She was active on the archery and high school rodeo teams. She also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, and Rafter J Exceptional Rodeos for Children with Disabilities.

Lilley’s $750 award is designated as the RHF John McQuay Memorial Scholarship. Her plan to major in Biomedical Science was inspired by her veterinarian. “I wanted to be a vet at first, but she told me, ‘Hey, if you are going to be in school the same amount of time, why don’t you become a doctor?’”

Maddisen Schulz

Growing up, Maddisen Schulz would often go on emergencies with her mother, Tracy Schulz, a veterinarian, “She would always have me count pills and get prescriptions ready. It was fun for me so that is what sparked my interest,” Schulz recalled. She will use her $750 RHF Scholarship to pursue a major in Pharm. D.

The 18-year-old from Shelby, Nebraska, is an Honor Roll student at Columbus High School and takes concurrent college courses. She has been captain of her swim team for two years. She is an active member of the Central Plains Reining Horse Association and the North Central Affiliate. She has also been showing horses in 4-H for the last 11 years.

Shultz is thankful to have such supportive people in her life who have helped her with her education. “I’d really like to thank my teacher Mrs. Shannon McDonald. Shannon has really helped me get through school. I also thank my trainer Josie Bonner, because she is always there helping no matter what.”

With full appreciation, Schultz added, “It means a ton to me. It helps me better my future, and it is honestly a blessing because I did not think I would get it. When I got the letter, I was rejoicing. I called up my trainer, first thing, and said ‘We got it!’” 

The other applicants to receive $500 RHF Scholarships are:

Kelsey Cremia

Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Cremia lives in Auburn, Pa., with her parents Bernard and Terri Cremia. She graduated from Blue Mountain High where she participated in the International Club. Kelsey is a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania Reining Horse Association. She also volunteers every summer at the local SPCA walking dogs. She plans to major in Business at college.

Emma Dillon

Emma Dillon, from Ventura, Calif. is the 17-year-old daughter of Thomas and Dawn Dillon. She was an honor student at Foothill Technology High School where she played soccer and was a member of the Bioscience Academy. She plans to major in Animal Science to become an equine veterinarian.

Brogan Hill

Brogan Hill lives in Saint Anthony, Idaho, with her parents Randy and Melinda Rumsey. The 18-year-old graduated from Sugar City High where she was the president of the Karaoke Club and a member of the Spirit and Rodeo Clubs. She is also active in the Idaho Reining Horse Association, AQHYA and the AjPHA. She plans to major in Communication and Business to pursue a career as a motivational speaker.

Allyson Nicklous

Eighteen-year-old Allyson Nicklous lives in St. Paul, Ore, with her parents David and Laurie Nicklous. Allyson attended St. Paul and Blanchet Catholic where she was active in basketball, volleyball, band, speech, debate, Reading Club, and the National Honor Society. She is a member of Oregon Reining Horse Association and plans to major in Pre-Med and Biology to become an orthopedic surgeon.

NRHyA is a program funded through the Reining Horse Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is the charitable arm of NRHA. Along with youth leadership development woven throughout NRHyA programs, the Foundation supports scholarships for NRHyA members. Donors are invited to support these programs in a myriad of ways including individual donations, memorials/honorariums, and participation in NRHyA fundraisers. One of the benefits of maintaining NRHyA membership is eligibility for those scholarships.