As AjPHA and AQHA exhibitor, Alexis Miller says, "Having a horse show best friend makes wins sweeter, losses easier, and horse shows a lot more fun in general." Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

Six Reasons Horse Show Friends are Everything

When we think about the excitement of horse shows, a big part of what we look forward to is spending time with our horse show friends. Your horse show friends don’t look twice when you’re talking to them about riding square corners through a mouthful of questionably dirty rubber bands. Your horse show friends are the first to jump in your truck to grab a bite to eat directly after cleaning stalls. At some point in your show career, you’ll probably come across a friend who is more than just another competitor, so in honor of that “like-no-other” bond, here are six ways that your horse show friends are everything.

1. You work hard and you play hard together.
We get to the show before the sun comes up. We are at the show all day together. We eat together. We stay up late practicing together. At a show, you probably spend more time with your horse show BFFs than you do your own family. According to exhibitor Taylor Burgess, “My horse show friends are great because we are all in the same barn and support each other. Although we are very serious about practicing, it’s nice to be able to go and have a fun day with the girls.”

2. You don’t mind losing to each other.
You show because you are a fierce competitor, so of course, you want to win. However, nothing beats that shared joy of standing in your best friend’s win picture or sharing a victory lap. Natalia DeVencenty describes her horse show BFF, “My horse show best friend, Klay McDowall and I are both pretty competitive with each other, but at the end of the day, we’re always saying that if someone has to beat us, we’d rather it be each other than anyone else. We’ve become such good friends, that it’s basically become a sibling rivalry at this point.” (both pictured right)

Nobody gets the ups and downs of horse showing more than your horse show BFF. Your co-workers probably don’t care when your horse blows a lead change in the middle of an otherwise stellar go, but your horse show BFF gets it and lets you vent about whatever it is for however long you need to. As AjPHA and AQHA exhibitor, Alexis Miller says, “Having a horse show best friend makes wins sweeter, losses easier, and horse shows a lot more fun in general.”

4. You share a set of very specific interests.
Who else can share your love for boleros and Swarovski crystals? Or get excited about snagging a snazzy new saddle pad? Only your horse show BFF can truly understand and appreciate why you love this crazy horse show life and they don’t think your fashion sense is off. As Natalia DeVencenty puts it, “Showing with your best friends is fun because you get to share in an experience that most of your non-horse friends can’t quite understand.”

5. You spend so much time together, even your horses become BFF’s.
How many of you are constantly texting your horse show friends? Even when the show is done, you’re having a running conversation reliving what just went down and talking about the next one. We share pics of our horses (and maybe sometimes families, too) and celebrate when we find out the good news about point standings or any of the horse world achievements that nobody else would get as excited about.

Take it from Mackenzie Preston (pictured far right), “What’s so great about having a horse show BFF is that you already have something instantly in common: showing horses. If you’re lucky, your BFF may even ride in the same barn as you and live in the same vicinity, as mine does. Plus, if one is SUPER lucky, your birthdays may even be three days apart from one another. Ellie Becker is the best horse show friend a girl could ask for and our friendship doesn’t end in the show pen. You can catch us floating down rivers in the summer and next fall you will see us competing against each other at NCEA meets. Ellie will be riding for Auburn next year and I will be riding for TCU. To top it off, our aged geldings are even best buds, Denver (Brokers Lucky Kid) is Hank’s (Too Hot To) go-to equine pal when he’s feeling a little anxious.”

6. You support each other.
We give each other a boost, whether it’s a last minute pep talk or a literal leg up into the saddle. We share tack and supplies like that last minute dusting of fly spray. We make sure the other never misses a class by keeping tabs on each other’s classes. We have each other’s backs when we need it. You help pick up the pieces after a hard day, and you help each other celebrate the great days. Alexis Miller explains, “My horse show BFF, Victoria Leen, is the most supportive, kind and caring person. She’s always ready to help and encourage others, and she’s genuinely happy when her friends succeed.”

You horse show friends make horse showing even better than it already is, do you have a horse show BFF? Make sure you give them a shout-out and tell them how much they mean to you in the comments.

About the Author: A native Michigander, Rachel Kooiker is a lover of horses who loves to write. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BA in English and Psychology and an MA in Curriculum & Instruction. She competes in all-around Amateur events with her APHA gelding, Hoos Real. Together with husband Drew, she helps to operate Kooiker Show Horses, where they stand APHA World Champion Im the Secret.

Photos courtesy: Natalia DeVencenty, Kirstie Marie Photography, Taylor Burgess, and Mackenzie Preston
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