Everyone has a story to tell – something that makes them wonderful, unique, and interesting.
Distinction is a new feature of Living with the Birds, where people will have the opportunity to share a little about what sets them apart from everyone else.
Most little girls dream of owning a pony. Usually by the time high school arrives, the dream has been replaced with thoughts of boys, make up and cars.
For Patti Finch that’s not the case.
Her brown and white pony Eeyore was just the beginning of her horse obsession.
She dedicates at least an hour every day to riding, so that she and her horse will be ready for horse show season.
Patti has been competing in local horse shows for three years. She competed at state shows last year, and she’s trying to qualify for world shows this year.
Horse shows are her focus right now, but it’s obvious that her love for horses extends into all areas of her life. The walls of her bedroom are covered in horse photos and posters. Her bookshelf is lined with equestrian textbooks and horse magazines. Her college search has been narrowed down to schools known for their equestrian programs.
Here’s what she has to say:
How do you describe horse shows to people who don’t know anything about them?
“Well, horse shows are definitely more than just barrel racing, and the sort of things you see at rodeos. Horse shows involve a variety of different classes, such as western pleasure … and trail.”
How did you get involved with horse shows?
“I think I drove my parents crazy, because it was all I could talk about. However, I really didn’t get involved until I met these awesome people … who let me borrow their horse. They’ve also allowed me to tag along with them to a bunch of horse shows. They are also the ones hauling me to the shows required to qualify for the world. I actually wouldn’t have Chevy if it wasn’t for them, because they were the ones who found him.”
How long have you been involved with horse shows?
“This will be my third year, and it’s really hard to believe.
My first year was quite an experience. I learned a lot! I also experienced my first rodeo [that year]. Let’s just say Star didn’t like the rodeo atmosphere – she ran out of the arena after the first barrel. Then there was the goat tying incident, I fell off the horse backward, spent two minutes trying to tie the goat after spending a few seconds squirming on the ground like an upside down bug, only to have the goat get loose.”
What events do you compete in?
“At small shows, I try to do everything I can possibly do. I usually compete in western pleasure, trail, horsemanship and sometimes western riding. I also do speed events, such as barrel racing and pole bending with my other horse. At larger shows, I [am] just doing western pleasure this year, but I would like to do trail next year.”
What is your favorite event?
Oh this is a tough one. It’s probably a close tie between barrel racing and trail. It’s strange because they are completely different.
Why are barrel racing and trail your favorite events?
“The reason trail is one of my favorites is … the variety of obstacles, and how it’s a different pattern each time. There is also nothing compared to the feeling of have a really good pattern.
The reason I enjoy barrel racing so much is partially due to the horse. It’s a mare I trained myself, and I get a sense of accomplishment each time we do well. There is also the incredible adrenaline rush.”
How do you prepare for a horse show?
“I usually try to ride daily for about a half hour to a full hour in the couple months leading up to the show season. As the show draws closer, I spend more time grooming the horse and keeping knots out of the mane and tail to make sure they look good.
Then about a week before the show, I try to take it easy with the horse while still trying to get in quite a bit of practice. I give them a day off before the show to make sure they are well rested and ready to go.
Then I spend a while warming up and everything [right] before we show.”
How often do you ride?
During the summer I ride about an hour in the morning, take a break, and then ride in the evening for about hour after it cools off.
During the school year though, I cut it down to about an hour. Since the main horse I’m showing this year is only 4, I’m going to cut down on the amount I ride him, and not ride him more than an hour.”
Describe the day of a horse show.
“It’s different depending on how big of a show. At smaller shows I have two horses, and I enter a lot more classes, so I spend more time making sure they are warmed up. After the show gets started, I pretty much spend the day hopping from one class to another. Then, I get on my other horse to do the speed events.
At bigger shows, I only enter one or two classes, so a while before my class starts, I’ll go and start grooming the horse down, get him tacked up, get in my show clothes, warm him up until about two or three classes before mine, then we just sit and take a small break until it’s my turn to show.”
What is going through your mind during an event?
“It depends on what event.
During Western Pleasure my thinking process is similar to this: “Slow down, you freaking horse, get your head down, glance at judge, oh crap, I forgot to smile.”
For trail, I really don’t think about anything except for the pattern. I’m always worried about forgetting the pattern, so it’s all I try to think about.
For barrel racing and speed events, I really don’t think, I just kind of do it.”
What goals do you hope to achieve by competing in horse shows?
“This year I would like to qualify for the American Quarter Horse Youth World Show. It’s this huge show held every year in Oklahoma City. To qualify, you have to place in the top four, (I think they changed it to top six this year.) or earn a certain number of points. (To earn points, you have to place a certain way in a class with a certain amount of people. Example: First place out of three is half a point, first out of five is a full point, and so on.) I was able to go and watch a friend of mine last year, and it was a really cool experience.”
What is your proudest horse show moment to date?
“Earning High Point Open Trail at Horsemen United (the local horse show club) last year was really cool. A close second would be earning second at a quarter horse show last year.”
Three things people probably don’t know about horse shows:
1. They are not rodeos; actually, it’s a completely different atmosphere.
2. It’s a lot of hard work. People who show and ride do a lot more than just sit on the horse and look pretty. Looking pretty is a pretty small part of it.
3. If you get the opportunity to try goat tying, take your spurs off first, you might trip over them trying to get to the goat.
Learn the lingo:
Western Pleasure – the rider rides the horse around the edge of the arena, and goes as slow as possible while trying to make the horse seem like a pleasurable ride.
Trail – involves a pattern that can include a variety of obstacles, such as a rope gate to go through, a box made of poles to spin around in and poles to go over.
Horsemanship – a class that involves maneuvering your horse through a pattern with cones.
Western Riding – similar to horsemanship, only a little faster.