It Takes a TEAM

I decided we needed a fresh prospective this week so I called in some help from my best friend and fellow DIY Amateur Rider, Kaity Arthur. She thoughtfully wrote this wonderful blog about the "team" behind the scenes of a showman. 

“It Takes a Team”
Manny. Lori, Faith and I
A team is generally thought of as a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport. I like to think of the word team as more of a verb; coming together as a team to achieve a common goal. To me, horse showing is all about goals. Though showing horses can be considered a very individual sport, there is still a team. This is my ‘team’ that I have put together in my life that helps me reach my goals when it comes to showing my horse.
I’m going to start with my Dad. Often people don’t know what my Dad even looks like because he rarely comes to shows.  I have never felt unsupported by him however because he is doing a very important job while my Mom and I are away at the shows all summer:  He takes care of EVERYTHING at home! We have 2 other horses that don’t travel with us to the shows that need care, as well as their 2 dogs that don’t tag along. He tends to the garden, waters my Mom’s flowers, mows the grass etc. Although he doesn't come with, he is always in touch. He wants to know what fairgrounds we are going to, when we arrive and is always a ringing text in – “how is the show going?” He doesn't understand much of the lingo, drama, placings, points and all that, but he is such a great support system at home.  The most important thing that he does though is give my Mom and I the final hug and kiss as we pull out of that driveway with the trailer and he is the first one to hug and kiss us when we get home, knowing that every moment is precious with us.
Along with my Dad, I have some other very important family members that are a part of my winning ‘team’.  My Grandma Dottie and my Great Aunt Ann are huge players as well. Until she retired, my Grandma helped support all of my horse shows. She loved helping out and would help me with my entry fees before I had a job to pay for my own. Mowing lawns and dusting shelves sure didn't equal what she helped me with, but I did what I could to help re pay her.  My Great Aunt Ann is actually who got my Mom into showing. When she retired from the Army and moved to Midland she built the barn and indoor arena where I have always kept my horses. Only a few miles down the road from my parent’s house, I have practically grown up in this barn. Because of her, I always have a safe place and nice indoor to ride my horse in year round.
The next couple members of my ‘team’ are behind the scenes type guys. Fred Pickering is our one and only diesel mechanic. Our 1999 Ford truck has 250,000+ miles on it, so to say that we drive a lot, would be an understatement. Fred always gives our truck a great once over before we head to a big show, and is always just a phone call away with questions on the strange noises we hear while driving down the road. We also love our local RV guy! Anything that needs a tune up or fixed on our horse trailer, Brian Harvey is right around the corner. We can drop the trailer off and have it fixed and ready to pick up in just a matter of hours. These men are life savers, literally!
Manny’s side of the team is also important. We have used the same farrier for 20 years now and he was actually the one who found my very first kid horse for me when I was 6 years old.  Ron Sullivan knows our horses inside and out and even though he is a big time barrel racer, he has learned how we want pleasure horses to move, just so he can help trim and shoe our horses to maximize their potential. There is never a dull moment with him and our appointments are filled with sarcasm, poking fun of one another and hearing the new nick names he has for Manny, but his favorite is always “Princess.”  
Through all the stress and anxiety that horse shows can cause, there is always one member of my team that can take it all away… our dogs. Bailey the German shepherd traveled with us for 10 years of showing across the country. Known as the dog with the pink Frisbee, everyone at the shows loved Bailey. Two years ago we made the tough decision to let her cross the Rainbow Bridge, and horse shows (and win pictures) haven’t been the same without her. Trying to fill her big doggie paw prints, however, is my 3 year old Weimeraner named Faith.  Faith is great support in the form of a lick to the face or a warm body to sit next to while waiting for showmanship! Our back seat is never lacking a dog, because they are such important parts of our summers showing horses!
The famous Bailey and her Frisbee

Of course, the other HUGELY important member of my team is Manny himself. I could write for days about this horse. I have always said he has the personality of a Golden Retriever crossed with a Giraffe. He makes shows SO much fun and relaxing. He is my best friend and I know him inside and out. He works tirelessly at shows, showing up to 15 classes a day, going well past his supper, but you would never know that because of his great attitude. He honestly LIVES for horse shows, leaping into the trailer, ready for any amount of miles/states/hours to get there. He is my once in a lifetime horse and I love him so much it is crazy!
Some other fundamental members of my team would include Brandy Smith and the Smith family. Brandy wears many hats on my team, including my fashion consultant, shoulder to cry on, hardest high fiver after a big win, huge competitor and best friend! At any moment Brandy will lend me anythingbig or small! From her favorite Golden West saddle pad at World Show, to a different colored ribbon for my hair. As much as my Mom and I pride ourselves on being a “do it yourself” type team, anytime I need a refresher or Manny needs a tune up, I can always look to Mark Smith. His easy going attitude and soft hands make him the best coach around! Laura is a wonderful second show mom who always makes sure we are at the right early and dressed to impress AND know our patterns.
My best friend 

The final member of my team could be considered my team captain –my Mom, Lori. I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself into when she put me on that horse in front of her for the very first time. What a wonderful 20+ years of showing horses with her it has been.  We are SO close it is actually kind of scary sometimes! We joke and say that we share the same brain, but I swear we do.  With an average of 15-20 shows a summer, close to 300 miles a show – it is safe to say we have spent a fair amount of time together in the truck! On Sunday nights she would drive through the night to get me home safe and let me sleep the whole way because I had school the next day.  She is my best friend, my rock and the best show Mom anyone could ever ask for! (Seriously, ask anyone we show with, she is known as the best!)
Momma Lori is the best!

So there you have it! That is my roster for my ‘team!’ Going to horse shows and doing well just cannot be done by one person, it takes a bunch! Some good support behind the scenes and right beside you is important to being successful in the show ring! I am already filling my calendars with my shows for next year. I hope my team is ready for it!

 “It isn’t about how many ribbons you win or how much money you make. Life’s about doing something you love and never giving up.” – Unknown. 

Thank you Kaity for this wonderful post. Who is on your team? Post in the comments!

Have a great, horse-filled weekend :)

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