Find Your Passion

Whether it's showing, trail riding, or just enjoying time with your horse, find your passion and do it for the love of the horse.

Thirteen years ago, I walked out of the finals of the showmanship at the AQHA World Show knowing I was stepping away from my horse show career. I was graduating college; I was selling my horse; and I needed to focus my time and energy into finding a career path after school.

At the time, horse showing was my entire life. I had homeschooled during high school so I could travel to major events. And had been on an NCEA equestrian team throughout college. I wasn’t sure how to go about not being part of the horse show world for the first time in my life. 

I’ve found a new love for horse showing thanks to the girls in my barn and the fun we have at local competitions. Photo courtesy of Nichole Chirico

One Door Closes, Another Opens

Looking back, I’m thankful I had the chance to step away from that part of the industry. I started to realize how burned out I was competing in those events. And it gave me the opportunity to explore different parts of the horse industry I might not have not been exposed to otherwise because of how specialized each discipline has become over the years.

When I landed the position of assistant editor for Horse&Rider I was introduced to so much more of the horse industry. I had the chance to experience reining and reined cow horse events for the first time. I went on cattle drives in Montana, and regularly work with hall of fame trainers. 

It was there I realized that I was ready for a new chapter in my horse-show career. Enter Horse&Rider OnDemand expert Brad Barkemeyer. When I approached Brad about learning cow horse events and filming them for a video series, he was just as excited as I was. Instantly I became hooked on the sport. Now, four years later, I’ve competed in cow horse events and have even gone down the fence. (Which was also filmed for a Horse&Rider OnDemand series.)

With limited access to cattle, I decided to temporarily shift my focus. I went from cow horse to reining when I purchased my current horse, Keira. The reining felt like a natural fit for me. I had years of pattern placement experience. And I understood maneuvers like speed transitions, turns, and lead changes, thanks to doing events like showmanship, horsemanship, Western riding, and trail. But it still felt like a new challenge. 

Fun at Shows

In a previous “From the Editor” letter, I shared that I had convinced myself that if I was no longer able to compete at a national level like I did as a youth rider. That there wasn’t a place for me in the industry. Oh, how wrong I was. 

I ended up at a barn run by friends. They took their experience on the national circuits and used it to introduce young and beginner riders to competing at local horse shows. I started tagging along to these shows while I patiently waited for Keira to to heal. Seeing those kids compete helped me remember why I fell in love with showing to begin with. So much so that I even found myself in the show pen with a ranch riding horse I had been working with. 

It was a great reminder that each part of your riding journey happens for a reason. So whether you’re hauling across the country to compete at a multi-week horse show or headed out to your local buckle series for the weekend, remember to enjoy the ride and be grateful for the experience. Because the whole reason we spend all this time, money, and effort on horses and going to shows is because of how much we love the horse and love the sport.

[Read More From the Editor of Horse&Rider]

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