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Special Memories of Showing with Your Kids – with Susie Johns, Lauren Stopperich, and Kristie Patterson

Happy Mother's Day to horse show moms everywhere! In honor of Mother's Day, three horse show moms reflect on special memories of showing with their children.

Every successful competitor has a team of supporters behind them, and oftentimes, their number one fan is their mom. From doing hair, providing pep talks, and more, horse show moms are incredibly valuable.

In honor of Mother’s Day, we talked to Susie Johns, Kristie Patterson, and Lauren Stopperich,- who play the double roles of horse show mom and competitor, to learn about what it’s like to compete alongside their children.

When did you and your children start competing?
Susie Johns: When I was about six years old and I am still at it! I took a break just long enough to have my three children. When my youngest, Trevor, was a year old, I was back showing. My three sons started in lead line events around the age of four.


Kristie Patterson: I competed in AQHA and 4-H as a youth, then took time off when I went to college and started a family. I started competing in AQHA shows again in 2017. Melanie, my daughter, is the reason I got back into competing. She started riding when she was 3, participating in lead line classes, and is now in her final 13 & under year.

Lauren Stopperich: I competed in 4-H and local AQHA shows as a youth with my sisters, but didn’t compete again for about 18 years until I started showing with my daughters in 2010. My husband, Shawn and I have 4 children: 2 girls and 2 boys. Our oldest daughter, Paige started competing in 2005 in small fry, and then Jillian, who is the youngest, started showing small fry in 2009.

What is one of your earliest or fondest memories of showing with your children
Susie Johns: Them competing and winning at the AQHA Congress the same time I won there as well. Every time we are at a horse show together is special. It’s great fun to hang with them and grab dinner and a glass of wine. All three of my sons don’t live in Scottsdale, where I live, so seeing them anytime is always fun.


Kristie Patterson: One of my fondest memories was watching Melanie win at the Congress in the Youth Performance Halter Mares in 2023.

Lauren Stopperich: I think my fondest memories were watching them each compete in their first small fry class at the AQHA Congress. There was only the small fry western horsemanship class, and they were both so excited to be in that ring doing something they loved. I can still see the smiles on their faces.

What is one challenge you have faced while showing with your child?
Susie Johns:
Up until this year, sharing the same horse at the same AQHA World Show.

Kristie Patterson: When we first started showing, we shared a horse. Our first gelding, Jacks Hot Impulse, aka JD had the patience to carry around a young small fry still learning to ride and a novice amateur who was new to the show pen again. JD was often a saint when he felt his little kid riding and gave me my fair share of challenges when I was on and asked for more work. He was an amazing partner.

Lauren Stopperich: As they got older, I started riding and showing a little bit here and there, and always rode one of their horses. Juggling practice time for me and show schedules was difficult.


How has showing with your children improved/shaped your relationship?
Susie Johns: There is such a special bond between us and, as they have grown into adults, we all feel very blessed to be able to have the time to get together and do something we all love…showing horses.

Kristie Patterson: Understanding the physical and mental aspects of showing certainly helps me to guide her in navigating her schedule with practice and academics, as well as getting much needed rest when necessary. It has given us a bond that I am forever grateful for.

Lauren Stopperich: The best thing I have ever done for my daughters is to have shown horses with them. It gave us a common bond and is something that we all love and can relate to. My sister, Shannon Cairone also shows and the 4 of us have a private group chat that allows us to stay in touch and dish about all things horse related.

Is there any advice you would give to moms who want to show with their children?
Susie Johns: Treasure the times you can spend together doing whatever you and your child enjoy.

Kristie Patterson: It is tough to watch your child struggle! And they will struggle at some point. Be sure to have a clear line of communication with your trainer, just as you would any sports coach.

Lauren Stopperich: Always put your kids first, your time will come!

A thank you from their children.
Jeffrey Johns: Besides the obvious of thanking my mom for sharing her amazing horses with me and for the opportunities she has provided for my brothers and me, I think the thing I’m most grateful for when it comes to showing horses is her honesty and sound advice. I know she’s my biggest fan, but she is also my biggest critic. Her feedback has helped me grow into the rider that I am today.

Melanie Patterson: I want to thank my mom for all her support through everything in my life. She always influences me to be a better person and rider. No matter what happens in the show pen, she always shows up afterwards and supports me. I would never be the same without her!

Jillian Stopperich: I want to thank my mom for the endless amount of support and for pushing me to be the rider I am today. I would never be the rider or woman I am today if it were not for my mom. She is like my best friend…and I am so thankful I get to have her as my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the horse show moms everywhere!

About the Author – GoHorseShow Intern Kendall Lance is a third year at the University of California, Davis studying Communications and Professional Writing. Along with her studies, she serves as the Horsemanship captain of UC Davis’ Division One Equestrian team, and Communications Director of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Before entering college, she showed the all-around at AQHA and APHA competitions.

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