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Where There’s A Will There’s A Way: AQHYA Exhibitor Grant Mastin’s Balancing Act

For a 16-year-old, Grant Mastin balances a lot. But between being a Congress and NSBA World Champion, a highly-touted varsity football linebacker, raising lambs, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA, he still finds time to give back.

“He gives more than he gets,” his mom Melissa said. “Whether that’s seeing someone who might be struggling and giving them a lesson, maybe it’s the trail, and he can help them a little bit. Or, back to football, if he sees someone struggling, he’ll spend a little extra time with them.”

Grant even started a fundraiser last year called “Tackles for Tots,” where he pledged to match the number of tackles he had in the season with shoes to give as Christmas presents to kids in need in his area.

“There are things that go deeper than the surface than what you truly see,” Grant said. “Whether that be with that person’s life or what they’re enduring, there’s always something deeper, and it’s always good to just help out.”

Melissa attributes his generosity to all of the mentors he’s been surrounded by growing up.

“It’s the people along the way who have helped him grow and mold him into the amazing person he is right now. He has always ridden with Tommy Sheets — we owe so much of who he is, and of course, his success to him. He’s also been incredibly blessed to work with Ryan Cottingim again this summer,” she said. “I think that [helping others out] goes back to the great coaches and the great mentors he has had that have done the same for him, and he reciprocates that.”

Grant thinks his mom has a lot to do with it, too.

“My mom, she does a lot for me,” Grant said. “When there’s a will, there’s a way, is what she says, even if it makes things more complicated.”

While most kids tend to focus on one sport or hobby, Grant chooses to do all of it.

“It’s kind of been able to create a healthy balance throughout my life, because I can still have my friends at home that I can do stuff with, and I have friends at horse shows,” he said. “They’re all very understanding about my life here and there. For example, for this Oklahoma run, I’ll fly out for the Youth World, and I’ll fly home to come to football, and then I’ll fly back out. I mean, that’s crazy for anyone to look at, but they understand that, and they get that. I think it just gives me a good balance and opens up more opportunities.”

Melissa has made sure that Grant doesn’t have to choose between the things he loves, even if it means getting little sleep in October. During the All American Quarter Horse Congress, Grant attends school during the day, goes to football practice, and then drives up to Columbus to ride and prepare to show. He rides again before school, drives back to his hometown of Jackson, and does it all over again.

“Last year, he was able to win the Congress [in the 12-14 Trail] and they still made it to the state playoffs in football,” Melissa said. “And all of this is going on at the same time. I just love his dedication to everything. Football is just as important to him as horses, and over the last few years, that’s a question we would get a lot, especially going into high school — ‘Well what’s he going to choose?’ And the answer was always, he doesn’t have to choose as long as I can help it. His choice was to do both, and he excelled at both. He loves that energy. He loves that adrenaline from all of it.”

The overlap between the two sports has allowed him to be so successful in both. Grant was just named the number three high school linebacker in Ohio and won the 2019 AQHA Level 3 Youth Trail High Point.

“They’ve all taught me the same things in a way, but different ways of going around or going about it,” Grant said. “I mean, with the horses and football, those are two things you have to be super dedicated to, especially if you want to excel. So those are things you have to do your work when you’re at home, even if you’re not showing or riding or out on the field. You have to watch your film; you have to understand how to go about things, how to do things, how things work.”

At the AQHYA World Show, Grant will be competing with his horse, Hand Made Machine, in the Level 1, 2, and 3 Western Riding, as well as the Level 3 Trail, all while having football practice in the back of his mind.

“This year, hopefully I can come home with a globe or two,” he said. “At least one, but just making it back to finals in the western riding would be fun because that’s something we’re so green at and very novice, but we’re starting to get the hang of it. So even if I just get back to the finals in the L3, I would be super appreciative.”

Grant is grateful to do everything he loves, thanks to his football coaches and horse trainers alike.

“I’m just blessed to be able to do all of it,” he said. “My coaches, they work with me so well, and the school, the administration of the school, my teachers, they work with me well too. So it is all a good balance. I try to take care of my part, whether I’m on the field or in the classroom; that way, I can do what I can do in the show arena. It all goes hand in hand.”

About the Author – Olivia Bradish has been an equestrian for 13 years. She attends the University of Michigan, studying political science, as well as working for The Michigan Daily. Olivia shows the all-around events with her horse, CSR Roan Bar Penny, who is known around the barn as London. They enjoy showmanship, horsemanship, equitation, and trail.