We Ask the Industry: Where Did You Meet Your Spouse? Part 1 – Horse Couples
Have you ever wondered where certain horse show couples met? It’s always inspirational to learn and watch from life partners who seem to love and respect each other. We decided to ask some of them their story – many of them touching and funny.
In the first part of this series, we talk to couples who met through horses. Some train horses together while others are amateurs and enjoy showing together. We asked them whether they immediately hit it off or whether their love for one another gradually evolved.
Everyone was excited to share their marriage journey, so sit back and enjoy these stories of love in our industry.
Sarah Rosciti (pictured above) – I met Henry when we were youth kids showing horses. I was at a show and I remember this boy going by and falling off his bike. He says it was to get my attention. Well, it worked. We were just friends growing up and we would keep in touch off and on. I stopped showing horses for a while. Then, in 2005, I was living in Florida, and I had a dream that we were at a horse show together. So the next day, I called him to say hi and told him about my dream. I think two weeks later he flew to Florida. We were even engaged at a horse show – The East Coast Championship Show in Lexington. This September, we are celebrating our ten year marriage anniversary.
Sara Heeley – I first saw Patrick at a horse show in Oklahoma – The Reichert Celebration – in the summer of 2008. I was actually at a taco joint when he walked in. I thought he was pretty handsome, so I asked a friend with me who he was. They told me his name and that they thought he had a girlfriend at the time. I paid no attention to him after that as I didn’t see him again until he came to a horse show in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in January of 2009. He came down from Canada with a buddy who was there to see his girlfriend at the time. I told her she had to introduce us and so that night, at the Clarion Hotel bar between shots, we were introduced and the rest is history.
We hung out that weekend, and we both knew we would see a lot more of each other. I was engaged at the time, but after we were introduced, I knew what path I was going to end up taking. We kept our relationship on the down-low for a while to the public, but we talked and saw each other as often as possible. I broke off my engagement and he got out of a relationship. We were engaged in September when he proposed to me at Niagara Falls, and we were married the following May.
We fit each other perfectly. We have both learned a lot about each other these past nine years, and it’s been a crazy ride but there is never a dull moment and that works for both of us. He is a fantastic father to our two boys and has never told me “no” to anything I have wanted – how can you beat that?
Arianne Pait – E.H. and I met at the exhibitor party at the Tom Powers Futurity in 1994. EH’s longtime friend, Carl Baldwin said that he would introduce us. I was visiting with the Boxell’s and we immediately hit it off. I was smitten. We went out every night of the futurity. We were married a year and a half later. On our first date, my trainer at the time, Mark Dunham found out where we were going to dinner. While trying to be cool with my new love interest, we look up, and there is Mark, my mom, Carol, along with Jerry and Vickie Strickland. They decided to stalk us. They thought it was hysterical. I can’t believe EH asked me out again after that, but I’m sure glad he did.
Erin Bradshaw – I was obsessed the first time I saw Scott Weiss pull out of Rusty Green’s driveway. I couldn’t figure out who he was, and I lived in a neighborhood not too far from Rusty’s where he was working. I ended up asking my best friend, Ryan Painter, and he said, “Oh that’s Scott!” I was like um hello, well why has no one introduced me? So, I Facebooked messaged, Scott. I guess you could say I made the first move, and then Ryan introduced us at his house. Scott asked me for my number that night. I was smitten from day one. For me, it was love at first sight. We dated about two months, and then we got pretty serious.
Adrienne Dickerson – Taft and I met each other at the Spring Breakout Show in Lexington, VA. I had recently just converted over to showing Quarter Horses from Paint horses. Of course, Taft has shown Quarters his whole life. I remember I was warming my horse up for the Green Western Pleasure in the holding pen, and this guy came up to me and asked what horse I was on, and oh, by the way, I’m Taft Dickerson. This meant nothing to me at the time. I had heard of the Dickerson name but didn’t know who Taft was. Long story short, the fall of the same year right before Congress, I had a mare I needed to sell. A good friend of mine said you need to call Taft. He’ll get it sold for you. So, I texted him introducing myself and proceeded to tell him about this mare and how I needed it sold. His response back to me was – “I know who you are, we met this spring at the breakout and can I take you out to dinner at the Congress?” The rest is history.
Melissa Maxwell – Eons ago, Brent and I were in the same county in 4-H, but in different clubs. I had shown quite a bit before he started and out of show clothes, I was pretty unrecognizable. So, at our county fair, we ended up camping next to each other. I had brought a girlfriend with me to hang out in my motorhome. Late one evening, we had taken our showers and were settled with no hair, no makeup, positively not my usual appearance by far.
Suddenly, there was an awful racket next door. Lots of what I’ll refer to heated exchanges with intervals of crying. Well, of course, we had to be nosy. All of a sudden we hear this thud, thud… So we peek out of the curtains to witness Brent throwing his obvious ex-girlfriend out of his camper.
After she collected her stuff and made her exit, there was a knock on the side of our camper. We knew we were busted, so we might as well own up to it. We slid back the curtains and opened the dinette window, and started a conversation with the charming neighbor. During our discussion, I was somewhat surprised when Brent asked me out.
As we were making plans, a friend of his came walking up. The look on her face was priceless. She kept exchanging glances to each of us and finally interrupted with, “Did you just ask her out?” He answered, “Yes, why?” Her response I will never forget. “Well, this afternoon I believe you referred to her as that (bleep) on that black horse.” Oddly enough, we did go on our date and have been together for going on 37 years. True story I swear.
Micah Hansen – We met on the IHSA equestrian team at UNL. At one state show, I was getting ready to show, and I asked her to hold my wallet, so it didn’t fall out of my pocket while I showed. When I got done, she had gone through it and asked me when I was going to take her out to a place I had a gift certificate. So, the following weekend we made plans to go out. Then, when we got done eating, I paid with the gift card, and they came back and told me it was not working. The waitress saw that I was very embarrassed and just asked me how much was on the card and just credited me that much money to the bill. Fast forward, the night I proposed to her I laid out the same clothes down to the necklace she was wearing on our first date. I requested the same table at the restaurant. She had no idea until I proposed later that night on a moonlight ride on our horses.
Laurel Walker Denton – Barry and I met for the first time concerning a horse, of course. Our local veterinarian recommended that I call Barry to consult about a two-year-old race filly we had raised. It was a hectic time in his life; he was traveling extensively shoeing at tracks across the U.S. It took forever for him to get to the ranch. At that time, he also evaluated the horses I was showing in cutting and cowhorse. Things did not start out too well between us. To quote him,”All I have heard is what a great horseman you are, but how could you let your horses’ feet get in this condition?” I thought he was a jerk. But sound horses and a long friendship changed it all. It all started over 26 years ago. We have been married for 21 years, we are still best friends and he is my biggest fan.
Courtney Archer – We met through mutual friends, and it’s a funny story. I had just moved to Texas from California and Dave was working for Rusty Green. We were both invited to a BBQ at Sharnai Thompson’s house. Dave walked in and I immediately thought to myself ‘he’s quite cute.’
Then, Dave went outside to hang out with all the guys and Beth Case stepped outside for a second, Dave asked her who her friend was sitting at the table (which was me ), and Beth told him don’t even think about it – you don’t have a chance.
At the time, I didn’t know any of this had happened, so a couple of weeks go by, and it’s a Friday night, and a group of us are getting to ready to go out. I called Beth and told her to have Sharnai invite the guy that works for Rusty (who was Dave ) to go out with us.
Of course, then she tells me, I told him the other night at the BBQ he didn’t have a chance with you. Sharnai invited him to go out with us that night, and we have been a couple ever since.
Nine years together, and we just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Beth was my maid of honor at our wedding, and, of course, in her maid of honor speech, she had to remind Dave the time she told him he didn’t have a chance.
Kim Reynolds – We met in Fort Worth at the bar, Palominos. I will never forget a mutual friend of ours said Kim, do you like Curtis? I said yes, and he said, you know he’s bald right? (laughs) I didn’t care. He took me back to the hotel and walked me back to my room. I didn’t even kiss him and never saw him again there. Then, Kristy Starnes (then Kristy Bell) and I rode to Florida together to the Gold Coast. I told her if that guy from Texas was there; I was going to go out with him. Not only was he there all the way from El Paso, Texas, but I was stalled right next to him. We joked the whole time in Tampa, but he never asked me out. We were getting ready to leave to go to Venice, and he said maybe we should do dinner in Venice. Then, after Florida, we did not talk, and I was at the Dixie Nationals and heard a whistle. I pretended I didn’t hear it. I knew exactly who it was. He will say I broke my neck spinning around to look at him, but that’s not the truth. We went out at the Dixie‘s and spent a lot of time together. I told him if I didn’t hear from him soon I better never hear from him again. Then, we talked pretty much every night until a show in Virginia. We had a long distance relationship for about three years. Then, he moved to Florida; we got engaged, and, later, we got married.
Elizabeth Knabenshue – Will and I met in Athens, Texas in July of 2002. We were both in the concession line. I had just finished showing in the showmanship, so, of course, in true Athens style, I wasn’t sweating at all. To this day, Will makes fun of how hot I was, literally. And I’m pretty sure he had too much fun the night before and was looking for coffee. We had a mutual friend that had been trying to get us to talk for a long time, so it was super awkward.
It wasn’t until later in the fall, we went to dinner with those friends, Karin and Scooter Nolen. Will showed up in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops. I swore that was going to be our only date, but more dates happened. He lived in East Texas, so there were lots of phone calls and long talks. By New Years, we started dating more. We drove four hours to see each other whenever we could for about a year before he decided to work for Down The Rail and move to Pilot Point. The rest is history.
Larry Spratto – We met at a horse show. Rhonda was working for John Lawrence in Red Wing, Minnesota. I was working at the Angeli Farm in Iron River, Michigan. I was very interested, but the distance was a factor, no cell phones or Facebook back then. Finally, I asked her to marry me at the Congress, and she accepted. The rest is history. It’s pretty special to do what you love for all these years with the one you love.
Leigh Ann Griffith – Sid and I met in 1986 when I moved to Columbus with my position with Federated Department Stores. I owned a big palomino gelding and ended up boarding at his barn. We were casual friends for several years, and during that time, both of us had gone through divorces.
My hours at work were crazy, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to arrive at the barn after 9:00 p.m. Every single night – no matter what time I arrived at the barn, a man who also boarded at Sid’s showed up within minutes of me too. Honestly, it got to be very frustrating because I liked spending time decompressing from my day, and not entertaining the other boarder who talked my arm off. It came to the point where I was looking to move my horse to avoid this other boarder. Fortunately, the guy got transferred out of state, so I stayed.
Sid was not my type, but over time, I grew to respect his kindness and humor. The main attraction for me was that he was simply an outstanding father to his children. We started going to a few horse shows together, and eventually started dating. It was a long process, and neither of us had ever considered dating.
About the time we became serious, Sid intimated to me that he had been trying to fix me up for years with the guy who boarded at his place. Each time he saw my car pull in, he tipped him off that I was there. I was furious with Sid, but he couldn’t stop laughing. It’s still a source of contention when he brings it up. That’s Sid for you!
We got married during the Congress one year and decided since we had both been previously married that it was easiest to elope. Kentucky law allowed us to get married the same day, so we drove down just over the border from Cincinnati. Our first stop was at the licensing clerk, who yelled rather loudly “Hunting, Fishing or Marriage.”
After almost throwing in the towel right there, we drove to the Justice of the Peace’s office that was in a very scary district off the riverfront. A man was on the telephone when we walked in, and the only furnishings were an old wooden desk and chair, a phone and a piece of lattice fastened to the wall that was not painted and had “Kiln Dried” stamped on it. Sid still calls the place the “Golden Hands” because there was a pair of bronze hands hanging on the lattice. The Justice was on the phone and said, “Gotta go, I’ve got a wedding” after which he shoved the old rotary phone into the desk drawer.
Since neither of us realized we needed a witness, the Justice of the Peace asked us for $5.00 and brought a man who had been sitting on the curb in, unbathed and reeking of alcohol, to be our witness. I was all dressed up in a pink Oscar de la Renta suit, and the day was not what I had in mind. I think that Sid and I would both admit that our lives have been an adventure ever since. We both joke, however, that we aren’t sure that we are legally married.
Julie Smith – Our families were lifelong friends. We started dating at 16 years old only because my dad wouldn’t let me date until then. We were married at 19. Jason wanted to go to the Youth World, and back then you couldn’t be married, or we would have married out of high school.
Kristy Starnes – We met as youth kids at a Camden, South Carolina show. We dated for a while, then, broke up, but got together again two years later. We got married when we were 20 (Kristy) and 21 (Jay). We will be married 15 years this August.
Joanne Garnett – Mike was training with Bob Loomis, and I was training with Joyce. We never were there at the same time in four years. Then, one year, we were at a show in Wichita, Kansas. I was running barrels, and when I came out of the show pen, my horse was lame, and Mike came up to help me. That is when we first met. He helped me with my horse; then we went out for pizza that night. I think we both knew on our first date it was meant to be. I know I couldn’t ask for anyone better to go through life with.
Johnna Dobbs – We were immediately smitten with each other. So, a little back story – a lot of people didn’t even know my father, Jerry Strickland had a daughter since I did speed events. Jerry and Vickie were at the AQHA World Show in ’97 at the AQHA World Show Sale. My father goes to the restroom. Vickie buys a halter horse while he is gone – Coolest Babe In Town.
My father comes back into the sale, and Vickie says I bought a halter horse. He said, “What?” Jon Barry is their western pleasure trainer at the time. My father asked him where to send the halter horse. He said to send it to Charlie Dobbs; he’s the best. Dad’s next question was who is going to show “Babe”? Vickie said, “I’m not.” Dad said, he wasn’t. Their son, Denny wasn’t old enough. Johnna can! But, Johnna is a barrel racer…she has never watched a halter class before.
So, New Year’s weekend at Gordyville, I am going to make my debut showing in halter. Well, I walk out to the stalls. As I turn down the alley of our stalls, I see this guy bent over blacking my horse’s feet. I was like hmm. Who is this? I find out; it’s my trainer’s son. Remember, I have never watched a halter class. Travis offers to take me up to the arena to watch a halter class and show me the ropes. Charlie and Travis leave with Babe after I win the class and head back to Tuscola. Travis asked his father if he would mind if he dated his Amateur?
That night, we were all going to meet again in Urbana for dinner except Travis because he had a date with a girl. He canceled the date and called his mother, Johne, and asked where we were eating and showed up to dinner. All the halter/horse show people did not believe Travis was dating a barrel racer. The rest is history.
Kendell Staton – In the late summer of ‘89, my dad died in a tragic mining accident. Our families had met many years before and were acquainted. I spent every minute I possibly could at Jeff’s barn for the next few years after my dad passed away. I got the first halter horse that next summer and the next few years, Andy and I spent in the back seat of his dad’s truck going to weekend shows and a few treasured trips to Texas. We fought and loved each other like the brother and sister neither one of us ever had.
During my college years in Tennessee, our families remained close friends, and Andy would come and visit. I would introduce him to my friends as my “little brother” from Kentucky. Fast forward a few years, our friendship matured but our lives went in different paths. Andy was preparing to continue with his Dad’s business as a halter horse trainer, and I built a life in Tennessee and adopted my daughter, Kennedy. I had an all around horse with Cathy Herrin and was packing up to show in early 2001 when she had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. I was all loaded up so I thought I would head to Kentucky instead to spend some time with family and friends.
When I got to the Staton’s barn, I told Andy to pick me up later so we could go out to dinner and catch up. Everything changed after that day, and we’ve not spent too many days apart since then. Seventeen years later…we have our 20-year-old daughter, Kennedy and a 13-year-old son, Tuff. Now, a surprise baby girl due in August is on the way. It’s been a beautiful journey with ups and downs…a new chapter continues.
Garth Gooding – Sonnesa and I first met at a Paint show in Columbia City, Indiana. She was hauling for the high point all around youth, and several big shows were coming up by us. She was from Texas, and our dads had done a lot of business together, but we didn’t know each other. They thought it would be a good idea for her to stay in Michigan with us for three to four weeks. Sonnesa was pretty shy and was not overly impressed with me at first, but she had nothing else to do, so we started going out some, and the rest is history.
Sue Kapushion – We met in 1985. Marv saw my picture in a local horse magazine, and he had his sister set us up. It was love at first site knowing that we both had a common interest – me with a horse show background and Marv with a ranch and rodeo background. We dated for 14 months while we started training horses together and married. Our honeymoon was at a horse show in Spanish Fork, Utah.
In the early years, besides training, we had two daughters who are grown and married themselves. We have two granddaughters who have changed our lives. Not always a comfortable experience, but because of our love for each other, our family, horses and competition, we’ve had a wonderful time now both judging together. We get to travel the world doing what we love while still training and showing AQHA horses full time.
Ashley Dunbar-Clock – My husband, Cody and I met about ten years ago at a horse show. He trained reining horses over the hill from where I trained back when we lived in California. We were friends and spoke at shows. I always found him attractive. A year or two had gone by, and I had moved away. We had both gone through breakups and started talking more and more and slowly started dating. Then, we realized long distance wouldn’t work, so I moved back. It was love ever since. We were engaged and married not long after that. I would say it was love from the start for both of us.
Part 2 of our Where Did You Meet Your Spouse series talks to horse people who met their spouses at a non-horse related venue. We will talk to spouses that either are not “horsey” in the least or only got involved with horses after they met their horse crazy spouse. Stay tuned for some more fun stories.