2020 Amazing Kids - Central Oregonian
School: Butte Charter School
Hometown: Powell Butte, Or
Why she is Amazing: Alayna Neville is involved in her community and demonstrates leadership in 4-H and horse training. She is bringing awareness to the need to adopt wild mustangs.
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Alayna Neville is an active 13-year-old who has been working with horses for the past three years. She started with a blind Appaloosa pony, now 23 years old, which she still has. She also is involved in 4-H with rabbits and pigs. Additionally, Alayna has been involved in dance, but now wants to focus on her horses.
“The past year, she has trained her mustang, she has worked with her 4-H group and she was in the competitive dance team,” says RaeAnna Neville, Alayna’s mother. “She is pretty involved in the community and she likes to participate for sure, but her passion is horses.”
Neville adds that Alayna already is involved in the horse community, and she continues to get more involved. When other kids are swimming or staying cool inside, the teen is training a mustang yearling that recently was taken from the wild. Alayna named it To the Moon and Back (Luna for short) for an upcoming competition.
The event is the Teens and Oregon Mustangs Trainer Event, a competition to be held Sept. 25 at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds in McMinnville. Currently, Alayna is the only youth from Central Oregon entered this year.
For the Sept. 25 competition, participants must be 10 to 17 years old and are required to work with a yearling wild mustang that has been out of the wild no more than 60 days. The participants must get adoption papers and screening completed from the Bureau of Land Management before they are assigned their horse. They must also work with an adult trainer.
“She is honestly, though, one of the most dedicated kids I have ever seen with the horses,” says Kristine Voakes, Alayna’s adult horse trainer. “She will be out here early in the morning until late at night. RaeAnna has told me she will miss dinner sometimes because she is out with the horses. It’s incredible to have dedication like that. It’s hard to find in young kids.”
Voakes, who has a Natural Horsemanship Training business, has been working with Alayna for some time —even before Alayna committed to the Teens and Oregon Mustangs Competition. “This is both our first year, being part of the Teens and Oregon Mustangs program, which is so fantastic,” Voakes says. “I have worked with mustangs before, and it’s such a good program that not a lot of people know about. That is amazing — if you have never worked with a mustang, this is the way to go. It is so rewarding. Once you earn their trust, they will do anything for you.”
This is Alayna’s second mustang — separate from the Teens and Oregon Mustangs program. Kristine and Alayna also have worked together with her 3-year-old mustang, Magic. “Out of excitement over her owning her own mustang, Magic, we went to one of these competitions and watched it in Prineville,” Neville says. “So, when the applications came due, she asked Kristine for a recommendation and put in our application.”
Alayna’s mustang, Luna, is a Warm Springs Indian Reservation mustang. Luna turned a year old in June, and Alayna will be entering the In-Hand Youth Division, which is divided into three categories: Body Conditioning, Showmanship and In-Hand Trail. At the end of the competition on Sept. 26, there is an auction where the trainers can choose to either keep their horse or auction it to someone who will finish its training or use it on a farm or ranch. All proceeds go to the youth and trainer.
“It’s a very fun program,” Neville says. “It’s very rewarding for the kids. When they place in the program, they win tack, saddles and things to help them in future years to participate.” “I have been super-duper proud of how well it’s gone,” Alayna says. “I don’t think it’s as much me — it’s more Luna because she is so smart. She picks things up so quickly.”