By Tara MatslerThe American Quarter Horse JournalJune 25, 2014
TC Lena is the reason I'm AQHA Proud. The 2006 AQHA youth working cow horse world championship we won together is just one example of the dreams he helped me achieve. (Credit: Journal)
“Sit up taller,” I can still hear my dad saying, coaching me to master his ideal horsemanship posture.
Try as I might, I never could quite reach his standard of elongation from hip to cowboy hat. It’s possible my aptitude to slump was tied to my introverted disposition, both in and out of the saddle. And while I greatly enjoyed competing in all-around events, major success in any one of them felt like that elusive rainbow I was always trying to catch.
But when I turned 15, it was liked someone flipped the switch. I had just made the leap to reining and boxing, and with that, my confidence seemed to increase exponentially.
For this new horizon, Dad matched me with the perfect partner: his 5-year-old gelding, TC Lena. I’m sure this decision had everything to do with the fact that we had bred and raised “TC”; from any dad’s perspective, minimal dollar signs is ideal.
I’ll admit, I was torn at first. Here I had just spent a few years with the world’s sweetest horse (aka my all-around mount, Zips Outta Town) and I had traded him for possibly the least-affectionate horse of all time: TC. Not exactly what a young girl dreams about.
But what TC lacks in cuddly disposition, he makes up for in talent. When I rode him, no longer was I slouching in the saddle. Actually, my dad’s new coaching tactic was to encourage me to revert to slumping. (Reiner posture vs. horsemanship posture … they’re definitely not the same, and there’s a good reason why.) But when I was on TC, I couldn’t help but sit tall in the saddle.
I was so proud to be showing such a fancy athlete. I was so proud to be riding a product of my family’s breeding program. I was so proud that he helped me achieve every goal I ever set for the show pen. I was so proud that he was my horse, my American Quarter Horse.
TC’s 15 now. He’s still showing, he still refuses to show affection, and he still makes my heart swell with pride every time I think of him. I can trace most everything that’s happened to me in the past 10 years back to him – the four years I rode for a National Collegiate Equestrian Association team, the American Quarter Horse Foundation scholarship I earned, my internship and subsequent job at AQHA.
He has opened so many doors for me. All the confidence he’s given me, the opportunities I’ve been afforded because of the things we accomplished, all of the passion he’s inspired in me … TC Lena is the reason I’m AQHA Proud.
Every day, I try to take a look around my office. I make myself relive the struggles we overcame, the hardships we conquered to win these trophies, awards and buckles. I do that and I remember that I’m working for members, like you, so your life can be changed by an American Quarter Horse, just as mine has been. That’s why I’m AQHA Proud – this horse and its Association have given me a life better than I could’ve ever imagined.
How about you? What makes you AQHA Proud? Here’s a round-up of some of your #AQHAProud moments.
We’d love to see more, so be sure to use #AQHAProud on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Enjoy more horse-showing quips, quotes and anecdotes from AQHA Internet Editor Tara Matsler by visiting The Rundown archives at www.aqha.com/therundown.
See more AQHA Partner benefits
Please use our contact form.
Call Customer Service
American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Drive
Amarillo, TX 79104