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Getting Back to the Real World After a Big Horse Show


The preparation. The travel. The anticipation. The adrenaline. The excitement you feel when you hear your name called over the loudspeakers for a prize. Participating in, or just being around, a horse show creates its own “high” for people like us, the ones who eat, sleep, and breathe this sport.

However, the vast majority of our non-pro/amateur exhibitors are part of the working class. Typically, they’re getting home on Sunday and prepping for their workweek starting Monday morning. So, how do they manage the transition back to the real world?

Amateur Julie Hoefling of Cave Creek, Arizona, is a pretty familiar face these days on the horse show circuit. Sometimes, as a Brand Manager for Farnam, her work follows her to the horse show. But when she’s done showing her horse, Movin The Chains, she says the two most important things she tries to get back to normal after a horse show are her sleep schedule and eating healthy. 

Hoefling says that typically, she has to go straight back to work when she gets home, so her transition back to the real world has to happen quickly. Julie also tries to stay away from the barn for a few days to give her horse time to rest and recuperate.

Despite having to switch modes without missing a beat, she added, “I also spend a few days reminiscing and smiling about all the fun memories during the show. That helps hold me over until the next one.”

“My wind down after a horse show doesn’t exist, unfortunately,” according to Amateur Meg DePalma of North Augusta, South Carolina. She says she jumps right into cleaning, laundry, and work as soon as she walks through the door. As a Regional Vice President for Prudential Financial, Meg’s work schedule is almost as crazy as her show schedule with three horses – Isle Deck Ya, No Doubt Iem Cool, and Hotroddin Ona Harley.

When Meg’s not romping around in barn clothes, she’s crunching numbers and handling others’ financials. The one thing Meg does religiously upon her return is go to the nail salon. “I can’t be going into people’s offices asking for financial business with dirty horse show hands.” Without a doubt, many of us can relate to that.

While some may focus their energy on the aftermath, others make sure their ducks are in a row for their return before they even leave home. Amateur Natalie Zvanya of Richmond, Virginia, is the Marketing and Business Development Manager for LenderSelect Mortgage Group.

Congress 2019 was her first “big” show, but Zvanya is no stranger to showing horses. She and her horse, Lazyaselle, aka Zelle, aka Ellie Mae, were the 2018 High Point earner from the 2018 Congress Super Sale, winning a gorgeous saddle at this year’s Congress. 

Natalie says that what helps her most is when she and her team prepare for her out-of-the-office excursions. Zvanya goes the extra mile to make sure that things flow smoothly while she’s gone and that her co-workers have the tools they need to succeed while she’s out so that she doesn’t feel bogged down when she returns. “I also give myself a buffer half-day or day between travel. We all can be cranky when we are coming down off of a ‘showcation,’ but adding that little extra time helps a ton.”

Although it may seem like the hours between arriving home one day and returning to work the next don’t look like a lot, it depends on how you use that time to allow yourself to decompress and re-focus your energy.

Whether you follow some of the same strategies these ladies graciously provided, or you have your own routine, like going to the gym, spending time with family, binge-watching Netflix, or scrolling through those work emails you missed, be sure to take the time to recharge your batteries – because the next show is just a few weeks away.


About the Author – Erica Owen is a professional all-around performance horse trainer located in Cave Creek, Arizona. Her program is mainly focused on Paints and Quarter Horses from yearling to aged events. When she’s not at the barn, you can find her with her nose in a book, traveling, or singing along with the radio.
Photos @ Shane Rux, Danielle Long, Ziegler

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