Today we had the year end banquet for the open horse show association that I work for and serve on the board of directors. I have honestly not been so excited for a banquet in a long time and was probably a little bit over excited considering I didn’t win anything.
As many of you know I LOVE horse shows. While I would prefer to be showing in them I get a lot of enjoyment out of working them as well. I have been blessed to get to work some of the biggest shows in the nation and with that I have gotten to see some amazing moments. I have gotten to see some great pep talks between rider and horse before they win a world championship. I have gotten to see the World Champion Youth Working Cowhorse help a fellow competitor with their pattern during the finals. I have seen some amazing runs and I have learned that those bad runs where everything falls apart happens to EVERYONE!
While my favorite place to be is at a horse show it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. It’s hard to be on the road as much as I am. I love it but I also love not living in a hotel and getting to see my husband and my own animals. Sometimes we work in extreme heat and the extreme cold and sometimes it’s long days (If you think it’s been a long day think about the staff, they get a short break for lunch but other then that most of the time they are there the whole day, all the runs). I have seen more un-sportsmanship like behavior then I would like to admit and while some of my hero’s I had read about in the magazines have become bigger hero’s in my book others have become someone I wouldn’t care to ever see again. I have taken a chewing on because their is a lot of pressure in the show pen and I’m the one that’s closest at the gate. But, I think what makes some of the bigger shows a little bit harder to work is that sometimes some of exhibitors have forgotten where they started and why they started. They forget about how much fun it can be just go out there and show off a horse that you worked really, really hard on and love.
I have had so much fun working this year at the OkHSA show’s mainly because of the youth ranch horse kids. These kids work so hard and they remind me of myself when I was that age. They help one another out, they have to be drug off their horse, they have become friends with one another eating lunch together and celebrating each other birthdays together. These kids pat their horses on the neck and tell them good job even when they don’t win. They go up to the judges in a respectful way asking what they can do to improve at the next show instead of demanding to know why they were scored a certain way. I love when the whole family shows up and reminds me of going down the road with my mom and dad and I especially like when the siblings act as my runner to save me from walking a million miles in a day. While they want their friends to do well, they really want to win and are gritty and ride to win no playing safe. I think what I love most about these kids is that they truly LOVE horses and horse showing and they remind me of me when I was that age.
When I started my dad signed me up for 4H and I was extremely against it. I told him I had two rules if I was going to do it. I was not going to lope my horse and I was definitely not going to show! We went to the first practice night and before long the older girls had me loping around and telling my parents that this coming weekend we were going to the open horse show and that the older girls were going to help me get through it. We went to that first horse show and never looked back! We spend a lot of weekends together melting at horse show making some great memories. While some of my horse show friends growing up have moved on I can still say that one of those “older girls” is still out there and brought home some top ribbons at the AQHA World show. I am forever grateful for the encouragement that those girls gave me at that first practice. From that practice my mom and dad hauled me all over and I was blessed to be able to go from not loping my horse to qualifying for the AQHYA World Show in Working Cowhorse and the AQHA VRH in the amateur division. I was able to bring my horse with me to college and he helped pay a little bit of the tuition and kept me out of trouble. While I have won countless ribbons and some really cool awards looking back on it the things that I remember most are the fun times I had going to shows with my parents and all of the doors that it opened for me. I have had some of the best times of my life at horse shows hanging out with my friends and have been able to travel to some really neat places because of it.
Beneath it all though is the love for the horse and the sport. I get goosebumps every time I see a top horse and rider make a great run. I definitely leave each show inspired to get better with my own horse. I leave the open shows with a lot of gratitude for all of the adventures I have been on showing, friends made, and the love of the great horses I have gotten to show.
I have loved cheering on all of the people that I come in contact with at horse shows and seeing the great things they have achieved, but I have had an absolute blast remembering my start showing, giving pep-talks when needed, giving advice and hoping to be a mentor of sorts to the youth that will hopefully replace me one day and be the crazy lady that LOVES horse shows!
Sometimes all we need is a stranger to believe in ya. If you haven’t found that person come to one of the shows I work! I will believe in ya! I just expect you to pass it on believe in someone else too!
P.S. Congrats to all of the winners at the OkHSA I am so proud of y’all! Way to go! Good Luck to everyone competing this year!