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We Ask Exhibitors: What Have You Done to Juggle Real Life and Horses?

At some point in their show career, many equestrians have had to contend with their parents picking up or dropping off their hardcore horse-crazy children in the school line with their truck and living quarters trailer. Not the way we would usually want to bring attention to ourselves.

One fellow equestrian, Sarah Lebsock shared an occurrence of trying to juggle school and making it to a horse show. “I promised my dad I’d actually walk at graduation for my master’s, but I needed to haul out to a horse show that same day. So, who’s the closest to the University of Cincinnati that would let my horse Stevie chill in a stall for the morning of August 10th so I can get another degree?!” 

Late nights and early mornings are common occurrences that happen to all of us in the horse industry. We asked fellow exhibitors to share past experiences and stories with our readers.

Sarah Rosciti – Well, yes. We bought a mare in Canada and got her to Maine – we were heading to Maine for a memorial/celebration of life for my grandfather, so of course, we brought the trailer too. He would have approved, he was a horseman, and we would go to auctions when I was little together.



Evie Doles– I’m a senior in high school, so usually, during horse shows, I take my homework to study and keep up with my classes. It can sometimes be challenging. I remember at the 2021 Madness show, I was preparing for my junior year final exams. Whenever I wasn’t riding, I was reading and studying. My barn mates were going through their preparations for finals as well, so we could all be seen buried in our work. It was stressful, but we all managed it well and still had a great time at the horse show.

Beckie Peskin – This describes the last 20 years of my life. I have done it all – worked a booth in the morning, so I could show that afternoon more times than I remember, flown straight from a ton of work meetings late at night to start showing the next day, and shown up to plenty of shows in 3” heels and work clothes. Just this past year at the World Show, the schedule was so drawn out that I had to decide to skip the L3 Horsemanship so I could spend the day working instead. I’ve worked very hard to advance my career to afford to get more excellent horses and show at bigger shows over the years. But, it requires dedication to balance the work with the fun. And sometimes, it means missing a fun dinner, getting there late, or skipping a circuit.

Sarah Lebsock – I just finished my master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Cincinnati. I had been planning to go to the NSBA World Show all year, so naturally, the day I needed to haul in was the same day as my graduation. If I remember right, we started showing on the 12th or 13th so we couldn’t leave any later than the 10th. So I made a post on Facebook to see if I could have Steven, my all-around horse at the time, layover somewhere while I walked across the stage. Miranda McIntosh so kindly had a stall for us. So, I dropped him off in the morning, changed in my living quarters trailer into my cap and gown, and headed to UC. As soon as I was done, we headed back, and I changed back into barn clothes and drove on out to Tulsa.

Carey Nowacek – I have been juggling “real life” and horses my entire life! I was a very active child and played every sport while riding and showing at a national level. I vividly remember one time when I was about 13; I had a softball game on a weeknight. During the game, I was hit in the face with a ball and spent the evening in the hospital. I woke up the following day, and my mom drove me eight hours to Ardmore, Oklahoma, because I needed a few points to finish qualifying and couldn’t miss it. I was showing with a horrible bruise and swollen shut eye. Everyone laughed because one side of my face looked perfectly normal, then I would reverse, and you would see the scary bruise. Anything to get finished qualifying. I juggle these days by trying to work while on the road at horse shows. You will frequently see me changing from barn clothes to work clothes to sneak in a meeting with an architect or builder wherever I might be in the country. It has always been a juggle for me, and I am not sure I would know how to do it if not.

Lauren Stanley – Oh man, it feels like every horse encounter involves juggling real life. But that’s what makes it fun. Horses always came first, so I’m not sure if I juggled it that well. I remember I skipped my senior prom because the last horse show to qualify for the youth world fell on the same weekend. I think the craziest time that I managed to do a horse show and engage in real life on the same day was when I had a wedding to attend that was four hours away from the horse show. So I showed my horse in the morning, changed in the truck on the way up to the wedding, and drove back to the horse show as soon as possible. Then I got up bright and early (I don’t even know if we got more than three hours of sleep) and showed the next day. Worth it!

Morgan Jennings – I probably have far too many of these to count, but two stand out. The first was back in high school. I played varsity soccer along with showing my horse full time. We had Sunday night practice for the team each week, which always crossed paths with the last day of a horse show. I would change into my gear in the truck, and my mom would drop me off at the soccer fields with the car and trailer, go home to unload horses, and then come back and pick me up. She always emphasized that I had committed to a team, which was a priority, even above the horses. She worked as hard as I did to ensure I could keep both balanced in my life while honoring that commitment.

Another was in 2016 when I was hauling for an honor role title with Finely Asleep. I was in my last semester of college, and a Georgia horse show that would be significant in points was during a huge test week. We had to figure out how to get the horse to the show, stay focused to pass my exams, get on a plane, regroup and compete. My mom drove the rig and horse to the show, and my now husband kept me rolling at home and traveled with me. I’m happy to report all exams were passed, and we left that show circuit champions. It’s a tremendous skill in life to learn balance…which also includes knowing when something is too much. I’m grateful to have experiences that have taught me both. I’m also incredibly thankful for the village it takes to support the balance when it seems impossible. I owe a lot of success to the behind-the-scenes crew always with me.

Rachel Kooiker – Like many others, I have a few memories of being picked up at school with the truck and trailer with my horse already loaded so we could get to the show. Still, this reached peak “horse lifestyle” balance for my husband Drew and me when I had to travel for work, and he dropped me off in the parking lot where our group was carpooling with the farm truck and flatbed trailer. It was a massive rig, and we only did this because our meeting spot was on the way for him to pick up a load of hay. Drew whipped the rig through an impossibly tight turnaround, and out I hopped with my luggage. Meanwhile, my boss couldn’t stop laughing as that was something he wasn’t expecting to see at the start of our trip.

These days, our life balance also includes juggling kids and their schedules; our daughter is taking regular riding lessons, and on at least one occasion, she’s worn her school breeches to school to save some transition time and get to riding sooner. I have always been known to have our grooming tote and riding helmets in the car, so we’re “always ready” with the essentials. In general, part of the “juggle” for me right now is doing little things that save a lot of time and stress; on lesson days, we will both pack double snacks in our lunches, and we both carry giant water bottles so that we’re not using up barn time making multiple stops.

Ashley Enoch-Scott – When I was a kid, I remember having a high school soccer game at the same time as a show. My dad took me to the game, and I had my show clothes in the car. We raced 30 minutes from the game to the show grounds, and I changed my clothes. This was before cell phones, I had no idea if I would make it to my class.  But, I got there, and my horse was ready for me, and I went in and showed. I also had to do the same thing with the prom. I was 4 hours away at our state high school equestrian meet, and a few of us had to jump in cars and get ready for prom, and we showed up late, but made it.

Meggen Morrow Baynes – I juggle many horse shows and real life. There are a lot of shows at Michigan State University and I work about 10 minutes from MSU. I don’t use any Paid Time Off for work when I show at MSU as I have flexible jobs. So, before the shows start and in between classes, I run to work and see some patients. I have a group of people that keep me updated on what’s going on in the show pen and help get my horse ready so I can just run back from work and show in my class. I have been known to go to work with my showmanship bun in. Its hectic, but it helps me hoard my PTO.

Julie Hoefling – I work for Farnam and last year during the Sun Circuit, we had some key stakeholders in town for a meeting that I needed to present at. There were various reasons why we couldn’t move the meeting. So…I showed ranch trail at the Sun Circuit in the morning and as soon as I was done, I changed my clothes in the tack stall and rushed over to the office in Phoenix to give a presentation that afternoon. Both went well, but I was relieved when that day was over!

Do you have any memorable stories of you trying to juggle real life and horses? We’d love to hear them.