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ICYMI – Professionals & Competitors Count Their Blessings on Thanksgiving


GoHorseShow would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. As the horse show season begins to slow down, it is a great time for us to count our blessings and think about the things that we are thankful for. For many trainers and exhibitors alike, it is a sigh of relief that the Congress and World Show are over and Thanksgiving is here.

Some will be looking forward to staying home with family and friends while others will be packing up and heading to shows over the holidays. Through the horse showing community, there will be whispered thanks for good horses, great moments of the year, and our good fortune to be able to show horses and do what we love.

We interviewed some of the industry’s top professionals and exhibitors to ask them three things they are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Let’s find out what they had to say.

Chad PiperChad Piper – I am thankful for my parents, Duane and Heidi for raising my sister and I in this wonderful industry. It is pretty amazing to still have the whole family still working under one roof even if it feels small sometimes. I’m thankful for the heated barn we work in during the winter months. I am thankful for the fact that I am really bad at golf because with the numbers that I put up, my clients know I am spending more time in the barn than I obviously spend on the golf course.


Whitney WilsonWhitney Wilson – First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their guidance and support. My family gives me the strength to work hard everyday to better myself and the lives of others. Secondly, I’m thankful for my family and friends’ health. So often we take our health for granted. The horsemen and women of this industry as well as all athletes require good health in order to take part in such a challenging sport. Lastly, I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to show my once-in-a-lifetime horse, “Minnie.” I feel blessed to be involved in the horse industry where I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. I’ve learned so much from showing my mare this past year, and I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for us.

Julain HarrisJulian Harris – I’m grateful for having the courage to be true to myself and chase my dreams through all the ups and downs. I’m thankful for everyday that I get to wake up and do what I love to do every single day. I’m grateful for the people in my life that I’ve met and the ones who have pushed me who have praised me. To the ones who have told me I couldn’t do it and the ones who said there was nothing I couldn’t do, I’m thankful for all my failures because for every little success, I’m that much more grateful.


Virginia OwenVirginia Owen – Thank you truck drivers for all of your helpful advice on the road. On our very long trips to the Youth World, Congress and Tom Powers, the truck drivers have been very helpful throughout the years. For example, on our way back from the Tom Powers this year, one of them told us that instead of overnighting in a rest area, go to a Walmart parking lot because they have security cameras. Thank you to whomever invented black electric tape and rubber bands. I use rubber bands for banding manes and putting my hair up for horsemanship. I couldn’t live without them. I use black electric tape for taping my spurs so my mare doesn’t get crabby and for making sure tails stays in and look presentable. They are both lifesavers when you are in a hurry. I could fix anything with some bands and tape. Thank you hairstylists for inventing hairspray and hairnets. Without hairspray and a trusty hairnet, my horsemanship bun would be disastrous.

admin-ajaxAustin Gooding – I’m most thankful for the horse industry in general. The old saying, “find a way to make a living doing what you love and you’ll never work a day of your life”, sure holds true. I’m also thankful for my immediate family, my girlfriend and extended family, “The Bauers”. They all have granted me so many opportunities in life and I know they are always there to support me unconditionally. Lastly, I’m am thankful for the Detroit Lions. They have taught me one of the most important lessons in life, never give up!



Rachel KolbRachel Kolb – First, my brothers. I have four little brothers that make for constant craziness and free entertainment. As much as they drove me crazy when I was in high school, I had no idea how much I would miss them when I moved nine hours away for college. Second is my team. I am so lucky to be able to go to school at the University of Georgia and be on the Equestrian team here. I’m thankful to be able to do what I love every day at school, get a discounted education, and have over 60 teammates and sisters to fall back on. Third is home! I am so thankful for home and everything there—my family, my animals, my own bed. I appreciate it more each year that I am gone at school and cannot wait to be back for break!

Dakota GriffithDakota Griffith – Without sounding cliché, or glib, it is extremely hard to narrow things that I am thankful to only a few. I think first about the whimsical song, Raindrops on Roses, because it is the little things that truly bring the most happiness. Family, friends and horses are definitely the highest on my radar, but “these are a few of my favorite things” for which I am very thankful. As a trainer, I am extremely grateful for the staff who show up daily to care for and assist with my horses, which allows me to do my job. These can be seemingly thankless positions with long hours, difficult weather conditions, hard labor, and real life struggles. After losing my Nana and namesake (Jean “Diamond” Miller) this past week, I am extremely thankful to have been able to say “I Love You” to her before she passed. I’ll never take those words for granted again. To the brave men and women who serve, and protect; I am beyond thankful. In these trying times of unrest, freedom can never be taken for granted.

Meghan MurphyMeghan Murphy – I am thankful for good health, the ability to walk, and the ability to ride. Riding horses has been an outlet for me throughout my life. I am grateful for the health that allows me to do what I love and swing my leg over a horse and ride anytime, anywhere. I am thankful for law enforcement officers. Both of my parents are retired law enforcement officers and growing up, I remember countless times when they put a stranger before themselves. Police officer’s risk their lives every day and I am thankful for their service. I am thankful for technology that keeps me in communication with family and friends all over the world while also allowing me to search the Internet for anything in a matter of seconds.

Lori GordonLori Gordon – I am so very thankful for a mother that always believed in me and taught me that with hard work, confidence, and great fortitude, I could do anything I wanted to in life. I am also so very thankful for being able to do what I love and to do it for a living in a world where a lot of people must work every day at a job that is not their passion. And lastly I am thankful not only for my wonderful family and friends, but for all of the great people that took their time and made an effort to help me further myself in the judging arena as well as the show pen.

Katie GrossnickleKatie Grossnickle – Number one is wine! Why wine? Since my family owns a winery, accessibility is fairly simple and therefore becomes a cultural thing for me. Come by my stalls, the fridge is always stocked! Number two is the girls at my boutique! These fearless girls keep the crazies at my store at bay while I am away chasing my dreams! Number three is rebuilding! On a more serious note, after my parents house burned down in August, I am thankful that they are starting to rebuild their home and their lives! More than that, I am thankful for the love and support from my horse show family that reached out to me and my family.

Liz FlohrLiz Flohr – One is my whole support system. Be it at work in the barn or in my personal life. I would be lost without all of them. My real friends that you can call or see them after months apart and pick up right where you left off. Second is my sense of humor. Being able no matter what happens or how bad it gets-to laugh and smile at the absurdity of it all. Third is my bed and my coffee. At the end of long days or weeks spent on the road to be home and climb into my big Tempurpedic bed and all the really early mornings before anybody else is awake sitting in my bed drinking my first cup of coffee.


Daren WrightDaren Wright – I’m thankful for the amazing judging career that I have had. Most people have childhood dreams, but very few get to say they are living out those dreams. I am a very fortunate and blessed person to get to say that I am actually living out my childhood dream. Secondly, I’m thankful for the work ethic and determination that my parents instilled in me. My parents always reminded me that I could be whatever my heart desired and if I made a mistake that was just an opportunity to learn a lesson. I’m not sure how much perseverance I would have had, had they not instilled that in me from a very early age. Thirdly, I am grateful to live in a country that allows me the freedom to be what I want to be and live my life in a way that makes me happy. Because of that I have a great job, was able to get an education, travel, have freedom of speech and the freedom to vote.

About the Author: Samantha Armbruster is a 21-year-old student from Sunbury, Ohio who is currently pursuing a degree in Public Relations from Franklin University. She currently shows her Quarter Horse gelding, Oops I Am Good, or better known as Hudson on the Ohio Quarter Horse circuit. Samantha rides with Lori Gingrich and loves being involved in the industry from lending a hand to the younger kids to learning from the top professionals. Though Sam primarily shows the all around events, she also has experience with World Champion halter horses as well as some of the top performance stallions in the nation.