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Work Ethic: How it Translates to Success in the Show Pen

Chances are, you have heard the famous quote by American singer, Frank Ocean, “Work hard in silence, let success be your noise.” Maybe you have also heard the quote by the basketball coach, Tim Notke, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

What do both of these sayings have in common? The underlining concept is that hard work conquers challenges. Work ethic is an essential component of a successful show career. This often means being one of the first people awake and the last people to sleep.

Motivated athletes understand how important those two little words are to a long, fulfilled career in the show pen. Work ethic often separates the winners from everyone else. This sport is challenging; every exhibitor hits a bump in the road now and then.

Here are some simple reminders as to why work ethic is an essential component of horse showing.

Goal setting

Setting goals is beneficial in every aspect of life; from the show pen to your workplace. They allow an exhibitor to see how far they’ve come and how far they have left to go. Work ethic is what enables an individual to achieve a goal and conquer the bumpy road in-between achievements.

To spark your motivation, sit down and write out a list of goals. Make sure to separate it into short-term and long-term. Always dream big, but remember that small attainable milestones serve an important purpose when looking at the overall picture.


When most people think of efficiency, they think of their mundane job. However, you can apply this ideology to the show pen as well. Work ethic is more than the actual achievement of goals; it is the ability to overcome adversity and keep going forward.

Efficiently conquering obstacles and completing task allows an individual to flourish. For example, you can think of this the next time you are packing for a horse show. Ask yourself, how can you become more efficient when getting ready? What steps can you take at this moment?


Work ethic can be representative of one’s character. An individual with a strong work ethic sets values on a job well done, knows the importance of integrity, and respects their peers. All of these components put together is called professionalism. You do not have to be a trainer or judge to be professional.

Every exhibitor, from small fry to amateur, should exhibit some level of understanding. This could be anything from a simple “congratulations” as you exit the pen or even helping someone when you see them in need. You cannot have professionalism without the work ethic and vice versa.


This relates to the action of goal setting. It is crucial that you focus and devote yourself to the task at hand. Whether this be executing a pattern in the show pen or when practicing at home. It can be easy to doubt yourself or become stuck in a “rut.” However, if you focus and keep your work ethic strong, anything is achievable.


Persistence is arguably one of the most important factors when discussing the essence of work ethic. Often when tasks become increasingly challenging, people feel the need to give up instead of pushing themselves past their comfort zone.

This lack of perseverance kills more show careers than anything else. Having a robust and unwavering work ethic motivates exhibitors to always strive for setting their standards higher. Being persistent in your goals can completely change the trajectory of your path for the better.


All exhibitors have to “show.” You have to sit square, smile, and go through the pattern, no matter what bobbles may occur. Work ethic is the basis of the outcome in that arena. Your trainer, other exhibitors, and the judges can see your level of dedication by how you perform in the pen.

Think of horse showing like a grand theatrical performance. Exhibitors rehearse, prepare day and night, and even wear “costumes.” To carry out the performance successfully, you must work hard and be dedicated to your dreams.


Work ethic is built off a substantial value of integrity. Honesty is a trait that is ever so important in the equine industry. Therefore, it is important to understand why this little word has such a significant meaning.

Think of it this way; you are not able to build a house without a strong foundation. Integrity acts as that unwavering foundation. You must be honest with others and most importantly, yourself. Carrying yourself with a high set of moral values, both in and out of the pen, is crucial.


Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” This quote encompasses the essential understanding between a positive attitude and the importance of work ethic.

With a proper mindset and determination, the sky is the limit for your possibilities. Exhibiting sportsmanship, even through loss, is an essential component to developing your character. It also demonstrates the strength of your work ethic.

5 Easy Ways to Spark Your Work Ethic

1) Use your time wisely
2) Stay balanced in every aspect of your life
3) Set your standard of excellence
4) Don’t let mistakes destroy your progress
5) Eliminate distractions

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.