If you want to increase adaptability and strengthen your skill sets, it might be time to entertain a change. Photo © Cody Parmenter

Change is Good: Exhibitors Provide Insight on Trying a New Event

Have you ever thought about trying a new event or changing disciplines completely? You’re not alone. There’s usually quite a bit of anxiety surrounding the idea of making changes, and the first steps can be the most difficult.

It’s not easy to strike out and blaze a new trail, but to grow, it’s necessary to challenge yourself. If you want to increase adaptability and strengthen your skill sets, it might be time to entertain a change.

Need a little inspiration?

Here are a few professionals and amateurs who have made moves in the industry and what they learned along the way:

Take a Chance on the Ranch

Steve Meadows, AQHA & APHA Judge and AQHA Professional Horseman from Staunton, VA, has taken the ranch horse world by storm earning championship titles across several associations in the past six years.

This fourth-generation horseman spent 25 years training and showing western pleasure horses before making the switch. “I do think of myself as more of a ‘Cowboy’ than ‘Show Boy’ and once I got a taste of the ranch horse, I was naturally drawn to it,” Meadows remarked.

The change wouldn’t come without some struggles, “When I started, ranch horse hadn’t yet gained the popularity it has today. Sometimes, the western pleasure guys would give me a hard time. At the ranch shows, I was the new guy, so I had to go out there and prove I could do it,” Meadows explained.

Meadows continues to add new events like ranch trail and working ranch horse to his program. His passion is unmistakable, “Adding new events makes me want to be a better horseman in general. I’m excited about going into the barn every day and getting to work.”

Add a Class, Multiply Your Fun

Claypool Ranch, owned by Matt and Cami Claypool of Xenia, OH, specializes in halter and all-around horses. Matt’s first job in the industry was riding reiners, but he found his passion with halter horses. Cami trains clients in the all-around events and particularly enjoys the trail. Together they have developed a winning program.

When asked about pursuing multiple events, Cami explained, “Sometimes clients want to try everything at once, but it’s helpful to create a plan. We like to set short-term goals so they can see their progress and long-range goals to work toward over time.”

Matt stressed positive feedback, “It’s important to progress into additional events by bridging on what they already know. It builds confidence and sets them up to succeed. It’s a positive experience and keeps showing fun.”

Cami advised, “We have worked with riders from all different backgrounds and each rider brought unique strengths with them from their prior experiences.”

“A good horseman is going to be good regardless of discipline,” Matt added.

Find Your Happy Place

Lisa Jones Greenwood grew up showing Dressage. Her point of change came after a horrific accident that left her with multiple injuries. Even before the crash, her departure from Dressage was something she had been thinking about.

“The environment was not fun for me anymore, but I felt stuck,” Greenwood advised.

Her journey toward recovery lead her to Miranda McIntosh at McIntosh Performance Horses in Moraine, OH.

Greenwood shared, “I felt that it was God’s alignment that brought us together. I don’t think I would be riding at all today if it wasn’t for her.”

Initially, Greenwood started riding hunter under saddle and she has now purchased a western pleasure mount. “He is so sweet. He helped build back my confidence and learning new skills is helping me to heal,” Greenwood reflected.

“Now I can’t wait for the next show and I love going to the barn again. Life is short so do what you love and do it now. Don’t let anyone grab your joy away from you,” imparted Greenwood.

You Don’t Have to Rush In

Kimberly Lloyd Wright, of Scottsdale, AZ, shared her experience with change. “I have been fortunate to have the horse of a lifetime in Blended Choclate,” Wright commented. Considering the duo’s success in hunter under saddle, it’s easy to see why she would feel this way. Wright remarked, “I feel like I would compare every other horse to him, and I would end up disappointed.”

This led Wright to western pleasure, “I wanted to give it a try as there was an appeal to going slower. I had the opportunity to show in a class, and I did, but just one time.”

Wright enjoyed the experience and felt she would easily be able to adapt to the new event.

“I used to show the all-around, but I like to focus on one event at a time now,” Wright said. She sees herself riding western pleasure in the future. “I’m waiting for the right one to come along. For now, I am focused on a two-year-old hunt seat prospect that I couldn’t pass up. I’ll see where that goes and then start looking again. I like to keep an open mind,” Wright concluded.

Your New Trail Starts Here

A passion for horses is what these competitors share. They each made changes that helped them evolve and continue to embrace growth opportunities. The process isn’t always easy, but if you are willing to take the chance, you will reap the rewards. So, if you are interested in trying something new, what are you waiting for? Change is good.

About the Author: Lisa Kiley is a lifelong horse owner originally from Manitou Beach, MI. She grew up showing in 4-H and open shows, then PHBA and AQHA as an amateur. She works in marketing and sales at Cashmans Horse Equipment in Delaware, OH and is the proud owner of three AQHA geldings.