NSBA World Show: August 14

Catch blogger Jennifer Horton's second day at the National Snaffle Bit Association World Championship Show.

By Jennifer Horton
The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 15, 2013

Jennifer Horton and Good Good Good

Jennifer Horton and Good Good Good (bar H Photography photo)

So now that the National Snaffle Bit Association show has started, I can settle in. We (my husband Bill and I) arrived here on Sunday, coming from the 2013 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City.

My horse, "Doug," (registered as Good Good Good) was here waiting for me, since he came with my trainer. The Show Your Colors AQHA show schedule allowed me to show in the Novice amateur western pleasure class on Monday, so I had a short day to prepare – after not getting to ride for a month with a busy work schedule as a horse show photographer. So it goes.

My first trip to the pen I consider a success. Long story short, I’m one of those exhibitors trying to come back to the show pen after showing as a young amateur for years but one who let life and all that involves get in the way of showing as a serious hobby. I’m also one of those sentimental amateur owners with a horse that we raised and I’ve become quite emotionally attached. And to add to my challenges, I have decided I want to show western pleasure, one of the most competitive classes in the AQHA shows today, even in the Novice division.

With the new AQHA Novice program, I am one of the “go back” Novices. I have to admit, since I did show for several years with some success, I was hesitant about the whole go-back-to-being-a-Novice-exhibitor deal. But after starting to ride again, I’m convinced it’s where I belong right now, especially in the western pleasure – a discipline that has changed greatly since I showed my first horse in it more than a few years ago.

We found a trainer near home who we felt would be a good fit for my horse and we were correct. He understands my goals for myself and Doug, his program has worked to get Doug broke and to become a show horse, and  we’ve finally reached the point where he’s starting to challenge me, which is helping me move past my comfort zone to improve.

OK, fast forward. So we showed in the Show Your Colors AQHA show on Monday in Novice amateur western pleasure. My goal for that class was to get my horse shown and to just fit into that pen of horses. I am still building my confidence back and working at making my legs and my brain communicate (it’s not as easy as you think). It helps that my trainer, Mitch Adkins,  does everything he does to prepare Doug for me to show and he does a great job for me.

Our first outing was just this spring, and we have only shown a few times this summer when my schedule has allowed. Mitch smiles and shakes his head when I come out of the arena telling him, “I was less terrible today.” Maybe he doesn’t think I was being serious – I was. But we’ve continued on the path of improvement and after placing in the 45+entry Novice amateur western pleasure classes every day at the huge Iowa Show Circuit in June (only our third show), Mitch suggested I compete at the NSBA World Show since that part of my calendar was open. So here we are.

I accomplished my goals on Monday. I showed my horse and we got our names called in the placings. Following the class, I crossed the second item off my “to do” list – we had our first official horse show photo made by Larry Williams at the backdrop. And Doug looks like a real-live show horse.

While Bill and I photograph many horses and exhibitors for a living – a career that I love – most people probably can’t understand how much it means to me to be the one on that carpet these days.

We all have stories. And the photographs help document those stories for us, they are not just for advertising, they become the memories. So now when I am in my office at home, working on images I’ve created of other people and their horses showing, I can look up at this photo and smile. Corny, huh? Getting the released image allowed me to immediately change my phone wallpaper.

With that first trip to the pen behind us, now we have the week to prepare for our class on Saturday – the Novice Horse/Novice Rider Non-Pro Western Pleasure class. I got checked in and picked up my exhibitor number. I had to provide proof of our Novice eligibility – I asked Nicole Barnes at the office if she just wanted to come watch me ride – but apparently pulling up the AQHA records on my smartphone was sufficient.

With that done, and my NSBA tote bag in hand, I made a quick stop to purchase my souvenir NSBA World Show T-shirt. I’m fitting all of my horse show experience into this one show.

Again, time management. The days look so long, but they seem to go by so quickly. A little bit of shopping, some socializing with friends, watching a few classes, riding my horse, caring for my horse – the day seems gone so quickly – and Saturday will be here before I know it.