Elizabeth Blaser was just 7 when she got her first horse.

After months of begging her parents, she said that she was finally able to convince them that it was a good idea and that she would work hard to take proper care of the animal.

Her efforts have paid off in many ways, as the 17-year-old was recently elected to serve as the 2019 president for the National Reining Horse Youth Association.

The NRHyA formed in 2001. The organization has local affiliate programs across the country promoting the art of reining, a type of horsemanship competition in which the riders guide horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins and stops. Out of the five NRHyA officers for 2019, three of them are from Nebraska. Olivia Klug of Columbus is a sophomore at Scotus Central Catholic. She will serve as the group’s treasurer and Morgan Ritz of Comstock will act as a historian. Blaser said it’s important to represent rural communities on a national level.

“To be from a small town in Nebraska and to represent something bigger than yourself is a really cool thing,” Blaser said.

Blaser’s family operates a sixth-generation farm outside of Duncan. The Columbus High School senior also participates in marching band, indoor winter percussion, National Honor Society, CHS 101, Circle of Friends, Key Club, intramural basketball and 4-H. But reining is one of her favorite activities.

“ It’s been just an amazing sport to be part of,” Blaser said of reining. “You learn life lessons that you could only learn by being with a 1,500-pound animal.”

In 2017, Blaser served as NRHyA treasurer and the year after as vice president. Now as president, she hopes to inspire others to take up the sport.

“To be president has been such an awesome thing,” Blaser said. “I want to further engage youth members across the country and revitalize their interest in reining because they’re the future.”

Amy Blaser is very proud of her daughter’s accomplishment. She said the organization has given Elizabeth the chance to connect with role models and mentors that have pushed her to succeed.

“Elizabeth has worked extremely hard and takes this position very seriously,” she said. “I was extremely proud. I’ve recognized how hard she’s worked over the years to earn these opportunities.”

Lerin Lynch of Stillwater, Oklahoma, serves as the organization’s youth program adviser. She’s said Blaser serving in a national position and coming from a small-town shows others that they can accomplish the same.

“Now that she’s president, that’s a huge responsibility,” Lynch said. “She’s done a fantastic job, so far. Very bright, very intelligent, she never leaves anyone out.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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