Stepping Away from Showing Horses – Part 1: Career and Family
As a little girl, Paige Wacker used to tell her parents how she couldn’t wait to grow up. However, after graduating college and adjusting to the “real world,” Paige realized she didn’t want to grow up.
Self-reflection while building her career as a veterinarian has forced her to step back and look at the bigger picture outside of competing with her horse.
This 3-part series discusses “real life” outside of showing horses. Part 1 highlights career and family obligations that have led her peers and former competitors to press pause on showing.
A hard realization when working towards developing your career is the time you have to spend away from your horse.
Hannah Loseke graduated from the University of Auburn and then went to dental school with an emphasis on pediatric dentistry. While completing her undergraduate degree, she rode on the equestrian team and was able to continue showing her horse.
However, in June of 2020, Loeske sold her horse as she started a two-year residency program for training as a pediatric dentist.
“It was the first time in my life I did not have a horse, but my residency program was intense, and I wouldn’t have time to dedicate to showing,” says Hannah.
Loseke worked out four to five times a week to maintain her skills, while building her career with exercises focusing on her back and shoulder strength.
“I have found the rower has helped increase my back strength to help maintain posture when showing the horsemanship,” she told us.
Hannah’s hard work will pay off soon as she completes her residency. In addition, Loseke purchased Ima Shady Blonde, affectionately known as “Flynn,” this winter. She’s looking forward to showing Flynn next year under the guidance of Brett Clark.
Similarly, Rebecca Anderson has taken time away from showing to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor. After winning the Amateur Showmanship at the AQHA World Show with her mare OK Shes Unzipped, also known as “Invy,” Rebecca decided to dedicate her time to her career. She will be completing her doctoral degree this spring at the University of Nebraska Medical Center – College of Medicine. Rebecca then plans to do an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency and a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility fellowship.
Despite Rebecca’s commitment to medicine, she still maintains involvement in the industry by sharing her special mare, Invy, with the next generation of showmanship divas, including Taylor Bates and Knox Weakly.
“The smiles on the faces of these young girls that she (Invy) has touched has warmed my heart and reinforced why each of us is drawn to these amazing animals,” says Rebecca.
After completing her education, Anderson plans on returning to the show ring with a new focus on showmanship and all-around classes.
“I hope to create, once again, a legacy horse that can achieve the new goals I have created for my future show career,” she says. “I am excited for what my future entails.”
Abbey Kliewer-Mills has taken a seven-year hiatus from competing in the all-around events to prioritize her education. During that time, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma and is currently in her third year of a dual Pharma/MBA degree program.
Next year, she will obtain a Doctorate of Pharmacy and a Master’s in Business Administration. From her time away from horses, Abbey reflects on how her career will positively influence her in the show pen.
“Pursuing a rigorous academic program has helped me become more self-disciplined, determined, and adaptable…all of which are also beneficial in the horses,” she says.
In addition, she recently married her husband, Quinton, and is adjusting to married life. Once Abbey accomplishes her career goals, she eagerly plans to return to the show pen. But, she says, “My sweet, innocent husband is still convinced the horses were just a ‘phase’…little does he know!”
Theresa Moran is known for dominating the all-around events during her youth and amateur career with Vital Signs Are Good and Chip Van Winkle. However, once she graduated from the University of Southern California, she immediately started working full-time and traveling the world.
Although she’s not competitively showing, Moran enjoys watching her dad and sister compete in reining, both in AQHA and NRHA. To maintain her riding skills, Theresa rides the retired show horses at her family’s ranch.
In addition, she embraces the experiences of riding bareback or on trail rides around the property. Theresa says this reminds her of the “original passion and love [she] has for horses.” From time spent away from showing, Moran is grateful for the life lessons she now applies to her career.
“Showing horses taught me to be persistent, resilient and to work hard for what I wanted to achieve in my professional and personal life,” Moran told us. “Adequate preparation is key, whether for the AQHA World Show or a presentation in the corporate workspace.”
Although Theresa doesn’t have concrete plans to show anytime soon, she practices horsemanship on her family’s young reining horse, so she will be ready when and if the opportunity arises.
Relationships, marriage, having children, and illnesses in the family can alter any plans that once were in place.
Sydney Scheckel is no stranger to the winner’s circle in various arenas across the country. However, her father’s battle with cancer has been the primary reason for not showing up. With his poor prognosis, Sydney has prioritized spending the remaining time that he has left by his side.
When not with her dad, she’s busy training her new mare, a daughter of multiple World and Congress Champion, A Perfect Pleasure, also known as “Pip,” in showmanship.
Sydney told us, “Pip has been so fun to train and another shoulder for me to cry on when I need it. I do showmanship as much as possible because it’s one of my favorite pastimes. I could eat, breathe, and sleep it.”
Despite her father’s health challenges, Sydney graduated from Baylor University, earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Accounting. Next year, she looks forward to showing her “mini-Pip” and creating memories while traveling to the shows with her boyfriend, Alex, and mother, Angie.
Connor Elizabeth Buck
Connor Elizabeth Buck grew up as a “trainer’s kid” and dedicated the first 21 years of her life solely to horses. However, after she started showing as an Amateur, she wanted to experience life outside the industry, since horses were her “comfort zone.” So, she decided to pursue her education and is now a licensed cosmetologist.
For Connor, stepping away from the horses allowed her the opportunity to meet her husband, Tyson, and become a stepmother to two boys. To top it off, Connor is currently pregnant and due in a couple of months.
Now, she’s prioritizing being a wife, mother, and cosmetologist over showing horses. She admits she doesn’t necessarily miss showing, but reminisces on the times spent at the barn with Troy and Alicia Compton.
“I loved learning from Troy about the young horses and Alicia about taking the best care of them,” she told us.
Reflecting on a childhood revolving around showing horses and now as a wife and mother, Connor is grateful the horses gave her a “crazy work ethic that applies to everything else I do now.” One day, Connor hopes to “make a comeback tour” and potentially show in the reining.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series as we hear from former leaders in the industry on how they continue their involvement with horses while not competing.