There are few sports stories quite as exciting as an underdog rising to the top in spite of adversity. Tiffany Davis, a DIY amateur exhibitor from Washington state, is heading to her first AQHA World Show in 2023 and her story is one worth sharing.
Getting to Know Tiffany
Davis began showing at local 4-H shows when she was 9–years–old.
“I showed in all-around events with an older Quarter Horse mare named Sweet Zan Bar,” Davis explains. “Then, my mom bought a young halter-bred Quarter Horse named Audacious Kid that I worked with at home and showed in local and regional breed shows. He really got me excited about showing at a higher level.”
Davis and Audacious Kid qualified for the 2012 AQHA World Show together, but decided not to attend. “I was a teenager then and my commitment wasn’t to showing at that level, so it was exciting to qualify, but we didn’t end up going.”
Davis then took a break from showing from 2017-2021 to pursue her career and then recover from an accident that ultimately changed the trajectory of her life and show goals.
Davis began working as a correctional officer in the Washington state prison system in the fall of 2019. She began her career excited to make a difference and be of service to her community.
In June of 2020, while driving home from work, Davis’s life changed forever. An unknown motorist targeted Davis and ran her off the road, causing her vehicle to flip more than five times before coming to a rest. Thankfully, Davis was able to exit the vehicle of her own power, suffering soft tissue injuries and a concussion.
The accident was witnessed by one of Davis’s co-workers, who contacted emergency services and stayed with her while they awaited help.
The motorist who chased Davis off the road fled the scene and has never been apprehended. Sadly, it is believed by investigating officers that this was an incident of road rage caused by Davis’s connection with law enforcement. 2020 was a trying time for public opinion against officers and it is believed that Davis was a victim in that wave of negativity.
“It became clear after my accident that I wasn’t going to be able to continue with my filly’s training because it had caused major strain and pain in my back. My filly had so much talent, but I just couldn’t sit comfortably in the saddle while she was running. I decided the only way to give her a fair shake was to sell her and pursue a different discipline for the sake of my back.”
Davis was heartbroken to let go of the dream of training and riding her own barrel prospect, but she refused to allow her injuries to push her out of the equine industry altogether.
“At the time I sold my filly, my mom’s friend Kathy Arnold was selling her 11-year-old Quarter Horse gelding Chocolate Invitation (aka ‘Timmy’). He was bred and trained for Western Pleasure and I hoped that having a pleasure horse would be more accommodating for my back.”
Surgery and Return to the Pen
Davis began showing Timmy at regional Pacific Northwest Quarter Horse shows shortly after she bought him in early 2021. The team found immediate success at the Oregon Classic in April of 2021, becoming the Reserve L1 All-Around Amateur and winning numerous Reserve Circuit Championships.
Timmy already had some experience in Western Pleasure and Trail and Davis taught him Showmanship and Halter as she prefers showing in as many events as she can.
In January of 2022, after consulting with her doctors, Davis underwent spine surgery, having a discectomy of the L5-S1 and rhizotomy (for nerve pain).
“I had to be out of the saddle for 12 weeks post-surgery. It was absolute torture and I think my doctor finally got sick of me asking when I could ride again,” Davis laughs.
Davis continued to show Timmy, doing the majority of her training at home and sending him to AQHA trainer Melissa Sexton for lessons and tune-ups, finances allowing.
No doubt, 2023 has been an incredible year for Davis and Timmy, with the pair qualifying for multiple events at the 2023 AQHA World Show. The pair will be showing in the L2 and L3 Performance Halter Geldings, L2 Horsemanship, and L2 Trail.
Timmy is currently preparing for the show with Melissa Sexton and they will be traveling with her barn to Oklahoma City for Davis’s first show on such a big stage.
“I am so excited to have the experience of going to the World Show with such a great crew of friends. I love Melissa and her barn and look forward to living my dream of competing at the highest level of the industry!” Davis gushes.
“I didn’t think, with everything that happened to me, that I’d have the opportunity to go into the show ring again and be competitive. To show at this level with this caliber of horse is a dream come true and one I thought I’d never experience.”
Davis is so proud of Timmy and their work together in just a few short years – all while she was recovering from her accident. “I love Timmy. He has such an amazing personality. He’s a goofball and acts like a big dog – if he likes you, he will lick you,” she laughs.
“Timmy has already earned his forever home with me and any success we have at the show will be the icing on the cake. I know the World Show will be so different than anything I’ve done so far, but I’m just so very happy to be there and I’m up for the challenge.”
Davis is soaking up her experience in the industry, but still hopes to return to barrel racing at some point in the future. “It’s amazing to me how smooth a pleasure horse is and how fast and controlled we can be with barrel horses. Once I’m stronger, I do hope to ride a barrel horse again, but I’m truly loving my time with Timmy – he’s a once-in-a-lifetime. I’m just so grateful to be here in this sport and I know I couldn’t have done it without my mom and Melissa’s help and support.”
Davis hopes that her story will encourage fellow amateurs or those recovering from injuries to persevere and not give up.
“I want people to know, if you’re in a lesson program, it is possible to go to the AQHA World Show as an amateur. Stay motivated and stay strong – I know if I can do it, you can too!”