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Assistant Trainer Spotlight: Samantha Gately of Ryan Cottingim Show Horses

Assistant trainer Samantha Gately works for Ryan Cottingim Show Horses in Shelbyville, TN. There, her day-to-day life consists of riding horses. She has a string of ten horses that she rides and prepares for their owners, whether it’s for lessons at home or preparing them for the show pen. She also helps give weekly lessons and coaches at the horse shows. Gately specializes in the all-around events with an emphasis on the trail.

Originally from Washington state, Samantha grew up in the APHA industry as her mother, Kim Gately was an all-around trainer. She showed in the paints as a walk trotter and then switched to reiners at ten. Reining trainer Darren Stancik had moved into her mother’s barn with all his reining horses when Samantha was about nine. Less than a year later, she told her mother that she didn’t want to ride all around horses anymore and wanted a reiner. Samantha mentions that she showed NRHA with her all-time favorite horse, Jac Be Smart, aka Jac, until he got hurt and had to retire. Then, she got out of horses for a bit, not returning until her last youth year when she returned to showing paints.

GoHorseShow sat down with Samantha to learn more about her background and goals in the industry.

GHS: Hi, Samantha! Thanks for sitting down with us. Can you start by telling us what you like about horses and showing?
Gately: It’s something that’s just in my blood. I was raised with horses; to know a horse is to love a horse (well, most of them, haha). The showing part of it is always exciting. I’m trying to be better than I was the last ride. I feel that our clients try to do the same. Sometimes, it doesn’t go that way, but when things improve, it gives you pride in the job you’re doing for the client and their animal, as well as being a showman myself. There’s nothing more gratifying than watching your clients and the horses you ride do well. It keeps you wanting more.

GHS: What are your favorite accomplishments in the pen?
Gately: My two best accomplishments in the show pen so far have been being a point from making the Sr. Trail finals at the AQHA World Show two years ago on McRange. Secondly, it was being 15th in the Sr Western Pleasure on Keeping It Good at the Congress in 2018. Keeping It Good and McRange are two well-known horses I have maintained more than helped train. By the time I got to show them, those two knew their jobs. Both horses hold a special place in my heart.

GHS: Can you tell us about your most significant mentors?
Gately: Ryan and Mandi are tremendous mentors in my life, but I admire a little about many different horse trainers. If you watch people ride closely enough, you can pick something up from each of them.

GHS: What’s it like working with your sister?
Mandi is my older sister – 6 years older to be exact. Mandi and I showed together through my walk trot days. I got all of her hand-me-down horses. Those horses were, Holiday Romance, her walk trot horse, and Zansational Luck, her 13 & Under horse. We have a great relationship. She always has the best eye and can help me pin-point what I’m not liking on one of my horses. For the most part, we work together great, like any business relationship, there is good and bad, but for us, it usually is good.

GHS: What advice do you have for other young trainers?
Gately: For all the young people wanting to be a horse trainer, it’s hard. Make sure you have some outlet not to burn out, and communicate if you need a change within your job.

GHS: What are some of your favorite memories over the years?
Gately: Some of my favorite memories are from back in the day when I showed my reiner. Because my mom was a horse trainer, my dad took me to most of my horse shows, which I cherish. We had a lot of fun on the road together. He was my biggest fan. Other great memories are from recent shows like the Premier last year. Ryan and Mandi had a wedding to attend, and I held down the fort at that show for a couple of days while they were gone. The clients that showed in their absence had great success, and it was so fun to be a part of helping them receive those neck ribbons. I have many great memories from the Congress, a long and tiresome show, yes, but always a thrilling show. The year Ashley Hadlock won the showmanship was so exciting. Again, it was fun to be a part of. The AQHA World Show brings back my proudest memories of showing McRange and Keeping It Good.

GHS: How did you come about working for Ryan and Mandi?
Gately: Ryan and Mandi needed help at the Congress one year. I had a great time that year; I had never been. Shortly after that, my mom, whom I worked with and showed with, decided to retire, so I moved to Tennessee to work for Ryan and Mandi. That was six years ago.

GHS: What is something someone probably doesn’t know about you?
Gately: Something most people probably wouldn’t know about me is that I love to cook. Making dinner specifically. I find it relaxing at the end of the day.

GHS: Are there any changes you would like to see in the industry?
Gately: We should return to smaller shows to avoid burnout. Don’t get me wrong, a big show here and there is great. But, it seems the show where you show four times has taken over, and they last two weeks. Sometimes, it’s nice to spend a few days at a show and then go home.

GHS: What are some of your future plans?
Gately: In the future, I would like to own my own house with some land with a little barn. Also, I really would like to have a miniature horse and donkey as pets.

GHS: Thanks, Samantha!