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Finding Your Circle of Accountability at Horse Shows

“The price of greatness is responsibility” –Winston Churchill

If you ask any equestrian what their show goals are, they can usually share them without much effort. Maybe it’s to win a class at a local show, or perhaps it’s to win a class at the world show. The goals may vary with each, but one factor remains the same…equestrians are always striving to improve. They want to be better with each ride. They want to achieve those dreams that are so deeply engraved in their hearts.

Unfortunately, staying accountable and focused can be a struggle, especially when trying to achieve goals on your own. Many of us think about our goals every single day, but the self-promise of achievement falls short when faced with the responsibilities of everyday life. Those who do find success are often surrounded by a circle of people who keep them accountable. They have people in their lives who believe in them and push them. Their circle helps to keep them personally responsible for achieving greatness.

Having a group of people who help to motivate and encourage you does not mean you are weak. It’s important not to let independence get in the way of listening to those who love you and want you to succeed. Those closest to you are often willing to offer the advice you need to hear the most.

Here are five types of people who might help keep you accountable and determined during show season and in life.

The Encourager

This is the type of person who knows how to push you positively. When you want to give up, they urge you to move forward. When you embarrass yourself in the show pen, they convince you it won’t happen again. When you are sure that you will never improve, your encourager steps in and reminds you how much you have achieved. When you need to cry, your encourager will be there with words of affirmation and will graciously tell you, “it is going to be okay.” Sometimes this person is a friend, sometimes this person is a parent. Regardless, we all need an encourager.

The Trainer

Monty Roberts once said, “It is not the great trainer who can cause his horse to perform. The great trainer can cause a horse to want to perform.” As accurate as that is with horses, it is just as valid for riders. Great trainers can teach, inspire, and help you find confidence in yourself you never knew existed. They may push you harder than anyone else in your circle because they understand your dreams better than anyone. They work tirelessly, putting horses and riders before themselves, yet they still give you their all. They are often the motivation and example that makes you want to be more.

The Truth Teller

The truth teller is not always your favorite person to listen to. You may even dread their honest advice and feedback. There are times when you do not ride to the best of your ability. You may be quick to blame your horse, the weather, or any other factor you can think of to keep the blame off yourself. The truth teller doesn’t allow excuses. They do not allow you to place blame.  They never let you to point the finger, but rather make you point the thumb. When you start falling off the road that will lead you to your goals, they are there to remind you that you need to step up or step off.   The truth teller is an incredible resource because they keep you accountable and responsible for your decisions.

The Friend

The friend is full of fun. This is the person who will help you through those pesky horse show jitters. They will calm your nerves and remind you to smile. The friend will joke with you, poke fun at you, and never let you take things too seriously. They love and support you. Even if they compete against you, they are always rooting for you. They will challenge you and push you to be better. They know your potential, and they will not let you sell yourself short. A true friend cares as much about your success as they do their own.


You have to be on your team. Even when you have people investing in you, it’s still up to you to go after that dream in your heart. You have to remember, no one can do this for you. This is your goal and ultimately, you are responsible for making it happen. When things get tough, remember why you started in the first place. When you think you are going to fail, listen to those who believe in you. When you need to be pushed, let those closest to you drive you forward. You were never meant to do this on your own, but you are responsible for the work.


Remember the wise words of Karim Seddiki, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” Believe in yourself, believe in your horse, and trust those who invest in you. That dream is in your heart for a reason. It comes from the core of who you are. You owe it to yourself and to those invested in you to be everything you hope to be.

About the Author: Ashley Freeman Shook graduated with a Master’s degree in Animal Science in 2015. She has been showing horses since she was a little girl. Today, she focuses on riding and showing cutting horses. She also raises cattle and two little cowboys with her husband in Oklahoma.