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Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Emma Widener of Maestas Show Horses

Assistant trainer Emma Widener currently works for Maestas Show Horses in Pilot Point, Texas. Initially from Lamar, Colorado, Emma’s mother always loved horses. “I think she put me on a horse before I could walk,” Emma told us. Eventually, Widener went to West Texas A&M for a year and a half, riding on the equestrian team before deciding to leave school and learn how to train horses. “I’m happy I made that choice, and I try to look at my time as an assistant as college.”

Widener started showing when she was seven. First, her mother took her to any 4-H or open shows she could find. Then, they moved on to show POAs and AQHA shows. “I enjoy coaching and getting horses ready for non-pros. But, for the most part, I love the horse show environment and being around many great people with a common interest.”

GoHorseShow sat down with Emma to learn more about her background and future goals.

GHS: Hi Emma! Can you tell us about some of your favorite accomplishments in the industry?
The last couple of years have been a learning curve for me. I’ve been working on becoming a better coach and have been able to help customers reach their goals in the show pen, which is special to me.

GHS: What famous horses have you worked with?
I’ve been allowed to ride many nice horses, but some special horses I’ve gotten to help train include Mist My Invitation, Shez Up To Code, and Pretensioso.

GHS: Who have been your biggest mentors?
I’ve been fortunate to have help from many people in this industry. The first is my mom and then Joanna Ruffino. She pushed me to go out and follow my dreams, and I can’t thank her enough for that. Next, I worked for Bruce Vickery and Anthony Montes for just two years, and from them, I learned how much I love the trail. They taught me a lot about what it takes to get horses to the show pen and shown to the best of their ability. And, of course, Arturo (Maestas) and Jesse (Jones).  I also have to mention Mike Staples. He’s always willing to give a listening ear and share his perspective.

GHS: What advice do you have for other young trainers?
Emma: It’s easy to get discouraged in this industry, especially at this level. Find a place that feels like there will be an opportunity for growth, and just put your head down and work. If you do a good job, people will start to see you because you never know who’s watching.

GHS: What are some of your favorite memories?
The best memories I’ve made are the friendships on my journey. The best part of the horse show is watching the warm-up pen with my friends.

GHS: How did you come about working for Arturo and Jesse?
I decided to make a change at the beginning of this year. After talking with Arturo, I felt we would be a good fit. I love the team aspect here and the learning environment. For example, if I’m struggling with a horse and ask for help, Arturo will stay up all night with me until I get it right.  I can’t thank Arturo and Jesse enough for all the opportunities they’ve given me thus far, and I’m looking forward to my future on this team.

GHS: What is one thing people may not know about you?
Emma: I grew up on a wheat farm. My first job was driving a combine cutting wheat for my family.

GHS: Is there anything you would like to see improved in the industry?
Emma: I’m excited to see more limited classes in the trail and western riding at the NSBA World, and I hope that continues to other big shows. I think the all-around is challenging for young trainers to break into, and more limited classes would help level the playing field a bit.

GHS: What are your future goals?
Emma: I want to run my own business successfully when I’m ready and be a good coach. I think winning at the NSBA or AQHA World Show would be cool someday.

GHS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m excited for what comes next and to continue learning and putting that knowledge to use at Maestas Show Horses.