What’s your favorite thing about showing horses? Why do you do it? Any advice for someone who had a disappointing show season in 2023?
We posed these questions to many top competitors at the end of last year. Many exhibitors suffering burnout may be questioning why they are involved in such an emotional and expensive sport. Maybe it would be better to take up a less expensive hobby. But, of course, we are here with some inspirational wisdom to remind you why you show horses, and why you wouldn’t want to spend your time doing anything different.
What’s better than spending time with horses and friends? Not much! Here’s to a great 2024 and some great insights from your fellow competitors about their favorite things about showing horses. Let us know why you do this crazy thing that we do in our social media comments.
Patty Bogosh – As we end 2023 and look forward to the coming year, reflecting on why we do this is very important. We spend so much time, money, and effort, it’s important we enjoy it. What I enjoy most is the bond with the horse and the growth that occurs over time, both in the ability of the animal and myself. The amount of trust and love that evolves is irreplaceable. I do this sport because I find a deeper connection with the animal than just a tool to win a prize and it’s important to me that the horse trust me and know I have their back. I started doing this so many years ago because of my intense passion for the animal and no matter what the talent level, the connection is what’s most important. I’ve had my up and down years too, and as I am currently recovering from hip surgery, I don’t know what next year brings, but I hope to be back in the pen at some point. If you’ve had a disappointing 2023, I just encourage you to keep at it – as someone who doesn’t know when they’ll do it again, take advantage of it while you can. Choose the shows you will have the most fun at and just remember, the more you enjoy it, the more your horse will too. Good luck to everyone out there and I hope to see you again soon.
Marty Oak Simper – My favorite thing about showing horses is getting to ride all the horses I do and learning from each one. I love the friendships that are made and being able to watch and learn from other great horsemen. Being able to go to shows with my wife and kids is pretty amazing and to see the excitement they have each week to go and make new friends and ride around in the lead line. Advice for someone who had a bad year, shake it off; it’s a new year learn from your mistakes from last year and move forward. We have all had bad shows, bad months, and bad years. but we can’t sit there and dwell on it. We have to go home and put in the hard work and sometimes just start over. Set some goals for the new year, some realistic and maybe a few that are unrealistic, and try to see how close you can get to the ones that seem so far out of reach that you keep growing and growing to better yourself to get there.
Sarah Lebsock – I often joke that no one shows horses for fun, they show to compete. But they ride for fun. My favorite thing about showing horses is the thrill of accomplishing a goal and the ability to repeat accomplishing those goals with new horses. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s me versus a set of standards, not me versus anyone else. I love being able to see the growth over the year from where we started to where we are. That would be my advice to anyone who had a “disappointing year.” Did you and/or your horse improve? If yes, then you’re one step closer to getting where you want to be. If not, then why not? I like to look at how we’ve improved from show to show as a part of the bigger goal of doing well in the fall majors. My goals from show to show aren’t necessarily to win, but to improve my turn around, my stops, or make it through pleasure or western riding class without losing buttons, etc. Things that I know I can control and can physically see if they improved or not. Then, hopefully, by the time I get to the end of the year, it all comes together for a big win. If you can break it down like that, then there aren’t any disappointments, just opportunities for growth and that’s the whole reason why we’re here to begin with.
Estelle McParlan – My favorite thing about showing horses is the connection that my horses and I have, and being able to see all the hard work pay off; the improvements with my horse in and out of the arena are so rewarding. I am extremely lucky to have my trainers Shannon, Hannah, and Spencer… so much of my growth with my horses is because of their support and guidance. I also love how many people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made because of showing. Some of my best friends are part of this industry. Every aspect of showing horses makes me happy. I have loved horses for as long as I can remember; I can’t imagine my life without horses and showing. I’m so grateful for all the experiences and opportunities that come with showing horses. My advice for someone whose 2023 show season didn’t go as planned would be to keep working hard and things will improve and get better. Everyone has rough spots, including me. I always try to remember that success is only possible with challenges, and I try to learn and grow from my mistakes.
Lana Markway – My favorite thing about horse showing… well, I don’t think I have a favorite thing. I just love horses and horse shows. There’s just something thrilling about showing horses. I also love the challenge of different horses and figuring out how to get them shown. Being in the horse industry is always hard. Some years are better than others, but never give up. Everything can change so quickly.
Katie Grossnickle – My favorite thing about showing horses is seeing my friends, being in the barn around barn family and my horses, and of course, competing. I do it because I love it. I’ve grown up showing horses with my mom and I just love everything about it and doing it with her is more special. My advice is to keep your chin up, there is always another show.
Olivia Tordoff – My favorite thing about showing horses is watching the younger/green horses we’ve owned develop into consistent show horses that love their jobs. I do it because it’s my passion and my family’s passion. Nothing is more rewarding for me than being a positive part of a horse’s story. When it comes to advice for people who’ve had a disappointing show season in 2023, the most important thing to recognize is that EVERYONE you look up to and respect has been in the same position. It’s just the nature of our sport. I’ve had good years and bad years, it’s just part of it. But those moments of struggle and hard work are what make the wins that much more rewarding.
Farley McLendon – The start to finish on one and seeing that horse shine in the pen after countless hours of work. Both my why and my favorite. Strive to stay consistent, wins will come and go just like disappointments. Be thankful to have the opportunity.
Jennifer Welhouse – My favorite thing is developing a horse. Many of my training horses were rank when I got them….not going to participate in under saddle… like this year Miss American PI won the Senior Working Hunter at the world show. I got her as a 3-year-old. She was an opinionated little redhead. I put her on the jumps and has been an extremely successful children’s horse. I love seeing the success after they leave. I also love competing and watching my daughter Denim Jo. She’s extremely involved with the farm and shares my passion. My advice for a disappointing show season is this… you can’t always be on top. Take it from me; I’m a rehab center… you need to understand the developmental phase… talented horses can be tricky at first. But when you finally succeed it’s so much better. Remember nothing good in life is easy.. if it was everyone would do it.
Grant Mastin – The two greatest things about showing horses are the people you meet and the places you get to travel; you get to go to meet incredible people in incredible places. What makes it even more special is that we are all doing it for the same reason, for the love of the horse. Having said this, there are many ups and downs when showing. The most important thing I have to remind myself is to use every opportunity as a learning experience, never stop asking questions, and focus on the details. Sometimes you have to take a step back and strive for the small wins and successes to build from. At the end of the day, we are all humans and horses are animals – you cannot expect to be perfect every time, so you have to take everything one step at a time and embrace the journey.
Emma Brown – My favorite thing about showing horses is that I get to do it with the people I love most. It has always been a family affair for us. I love getting to travel to all the shows with my parents we have made so many amazing memories together. Our barn is truly like a family. I have been with Judd and Jen since I was 11, so they have become a second family to us. Why do I do it? The love of the horse; I grew up riding starting on my first pony Jill. I can remember begging my parents to stay on longer. I love being around the horses and the bond we get to create with them. As far as advice goes, I would say it is normal to feel disappointed; it’s about how you overcome that. I would challenge people to remember why they do our sport, for me it’s the love of the horse. My two boys are the center of my world, and I feel like the luckiest girl just to swing a leg over them any day.
Meggen Morrow Baynes – My favorite thing about showing horses, is getting to meet new people all over the country at all levels of showing. I enjoy going to AQHA, APHA, and open shows and getting to know people from all over. I like to chat with people, laugh, and have a good time. My advice to someone who had a disappointing show season in 2023 would be to re-evaluate your goals. My goals going into 2023 were to just have fun, go to new venues, and to shows that had good prizes. Since I have two double-registered geldings, I started showing on the APHA circuit and had a blast. It’s been fun just going to show without having much pressure.
Amanda Moore-McFadden – I enjoy the challenge of competition. I usually try to have a new horse every few years and it is a fun process to start over with one, it keeps it interesting. Also, the older I get I appreciate the friendships and connections with others made through showing horses. I began showing horses in 1989 through 4-H. Throughout over 30 years of showing, I find that one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much. Is the connection with the animal and what you can accomplish together. To me, it’s more satisfying than other sports or activities involving other people. I think it’s much more difficult to get an animal to cooperate and perform the way that you want it to consistently. It’s a real sense of accomplishment when things go as planned. If you have been showing horses for any real length of time you soon realize that for every time you win, there are several times that you don’t. Some show seasons are better than others. A couple of years ago I had a horse that we had planned to sell after the Congress. A few short weeks after being home, he injured himself and it took most of the winter for him to heal. By the time he was recovered, our first show was a week away. I ended up keeping him and showing him another season and had a very successful year. Sometimes the things that you don’t think work out for you work out. You just have to trust the process and keep moving ahead.
Violet Shetler – My favorite thing about showing horses is the friends I have made. I have met some of my closest friends through showing that I would have never known. I don’t know what I would do without them. Showing horses is my passion. No matter how tired or frustrated I get I keep going to the barn. It’s my happy place and I am forever grateful for the opportunities showing has provided for me. I do it because I love it more than anything, it has taught me so many life lessons. I don’t know where I’d be without it. My advice would be to watch. Watch everything you can. Pay attention to who wins and why. You will notice who stays in the practice pen the longest and, most of the time, they are the ones who are doing well. Every season is a new season and every show is a new show. Make sure to focus on your journey and future with your horse and not let the past hold you back.
Scott Reinartz – My favorite part of showing horses is the feeling I have when I am competing. I love the connection I have with my horses. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true, it’s not about the prize but about the ride! I do enjoy the prizes don’t get me wrong.. but above all, it’s the ride. I have been showing horses for 40 years. I have shown many years with no prizes. I kept going. My advice is to keep going and do it for the love of the sport, the people you meet, and the experiences you get. I have met some Awesome people in this sport, I feel like that is a big win. Challenge yourself and your horse to do better, piece by piece. If it’s a better stop or a better turn work on that. Then when you have accomplished that move on to the next. Celebrate your successes. Enjoy the sport.
Kathy Tobin – Seeing old and new friends at the show is my favorite part of showing. I just enjoy competing and we all try to win but on that given day there will be only one winner. I keep showing because win or lose, I just enjoy competing. It’s the thrill of going out again and trying to win that day! I feel if you truly love competing and have friends, just keep going. Things will get better. Keep trying, it will be your turn again.
Tali Terlizzi – I love the adrenaline rush before you crack the gate. I’m a very competitive person and Showing horses has always been a passion of mine, it’s something that I’m always working on or trying to perfect. My advice to someone who had a disappointing year would be that there is always another horse show, find your weakness, set a goal and practice towards that.
Lauren Allen – I love showing horses because I love spending time with people in the horse community, and watching others and trying to learn as much as I can. If you had a disappointing season, try to stay positive and maintain your passion for the sport. Use your disappointment as fuel to drive you towards future success- spend lots of time in the saddle and prepare for the 2024 season!
What is your favorite thing about showing horses? Let us know why you do it in the comments on our social media.