Willoway Farm, Inc.
Specializing in Hunters, Jumpers and Equitation
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A Guide for Horse Show Moms

A Promise as a Horse Trainer

A Common Love United a Horse-Crazy Girl
and a Special Friend
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A Guide for Horse Show Moms
Kathy Johnson, Willoway Farm, Scottsdale, AZ

So your daughter has been taking English horseback riding lessons. One day the riding instructor informs you that “Susie” is ready to attend her first Horse Show. How fun that will be, you muse.

The date is a week from Saturday, 10 days away. You cheerfully agree. You are told to be at the County Fairgrounds by 7:00 AM, as your child has the first class and then some later in the day. (Wow, you may not have been informed that some classes may go as late as 8:00 PM).

For the novice horse show Mom, may I give you some hints!


1. Bring a checkbook (Entry fees, braiding fees, groom fees, etc).

2. Leave for the show at least one hour before you think you need to. Schedules change and you do not want your child to be rushed.

3. DO NOT let your child wear her show clothes all day. Bring a change of clothes to wear. Catsup from hot dogs or salsa from tacos does not blend in with her britches or shirt!

4. Bring your own water bottles. It is easy to spend lots of money at the concession stand for half drunken water.

5. Have boots polished at home, not at the show where boot polish will end up on britches.

6. Have your child wear sweats over the riding clothes just to keep her clean.

7. Tip the grooms well.

Now some real advise just for Mom’s behavior:

1. Really get used to your new name: I am Susie’s Mom.

2. Check with other parents as to where and when the horse show party is.
(If you don’t know this then you are in big trouble)

3. Make sure you are staying at the “correct” hotel where “everyone” else is staying or you will be in the doghouse with “Susie”.

4. Make sure you are at the ring with a water bottle ready for “Susie”, but don’t even think about going there if “Susie” had a bad time/performance unless you really want to get yelled at by your child.

5. PLEASE let your trainer handle all bad behavior on your child’s part.

Now some real advise just to Mom behavior continued…

6. Make sure that “Susie” thanks the grooms!

7. Make sure that “Susie” thanks her trainer.

8. Make sure that “Susie” writes a thank you note to anyone who has sponsored a class that she was in. (This is how we retain sponsors).

9. Make sure your child cleans up after herself and does not leave candy wrappers, half full drinks and left over food for the grooms to do. They are paid to take care of the horses, and not a maid for your child.

10. And most important, plan for the whole day. Do not plan for something in the early evening that would put pressure on your child to hurry up at the end of the day. There needs to be time for “Susie” to bond with her horse, be it a good or difficult show. Sometimes the child/horse bondings are done more after a tough time.

11. And remember that Horse Shows are simply a test of what was learned at home. As Arnold Palmer once said “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” Horse Shows are only a test of your knowledge. Practice more; show more often (because the test gets easier the more you take it).

12. Most of all: allow your child to spend quality time at the barn with her horse and trainer. MOM, THIS IS A HUGE TIME COMMITMENT.

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A Promise as a Horse Trainer
Kathy Johnson, Willoway Farm, Scottsdale, AZ

I am Kathy Johnson, trainer at Willoway Farm, Scottsdale, AZ and I vow to uphold these truths in my training and lesson program.

To The Horses In My Care:

1. I promise to view you daily and know you so well that I know what treat you love most.

2. I promise to care for your shoeing and vet care on a timely basis.

3. I promise to be able to look into you eyes and know if there is something wrong.

4. I promise I will never let you go through undue suffering.

To The Owners Who Are Clients:

1. I promise to always be honest with you.

2. I promise that I will always tell you what is happening with your horse.

3. I promise that I will be your friend in times of need.

4. I promise that I will get your horse to its highest possible level, even if that means sending him away.

5. I promise that there will never be any hidden commissions on sales or purchases. You will always be able to speak with the buyer or seller.

To Other Trainers:

1. I promise if you send a client to a show with me, I will never try to take them from you.

2. I promise that if a client of yours comes to me, I will tell them to hold back and talk to you for at least 30 days.

3. I promise that I will never speak ill of you no matter what issues you have had with a client. I hate gossip.

To My Riders:

1. I promise I will always be there for you in the years to come.

2. I promise that while you are riding with me, I can wear many hats; trainer, coach, psychologist, confidant, tutor.

3. I promise that I will always try to do my best for you.

4. I promise that if you need to move on, I will help you get there.

To this I pledge: Kathy Johnson


If you agree, please enter your name and add to the list:

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A Common Love United a Horse-Crazy Girl
and a Special Friend

Nancy Reed

"Nancy Reed has been a friend, a fellow competitor and a Professional Horsewoman for many years. I have known Nancy for over 30 years. This article was originally published in the California Riding Magazine, 8 July 2004. ENJOY"……Kathy Johnson

In the 1950's, I was just like every other pre-teen girl who lived and breathed horses. Everything that had meaning in my life in one way or another had to do with a horse. Unfortunately, I didn't own a horse at that point in my life, but I did get to take lessons and show occasionally.

Then one day my Dad bailed me out of school (YEA!) to go to a banquet with a bunch of adults. Certain it would be boring; I ate my chicken and peas, pretty much daydreaming about nothing in particular. But then the man who had been the featured speaker came to sit down with me.

My father informed him that I was a horse lover and he wanted to talk to me about horses.
Suddenly I wasn't a shy, inhibited little kid any more. I talked and I talked; enthused that he was the first adult who seemed truly interested in what I had to say about my love for horses.

As the years passed, the kind man came to town several times. On each visit, my father allowed me to miss school so I could see him again. Those once boring adult lunches weren't boring anymore.
The kindly horseman always made time to speak to me alone, even if that meant the adults had to wait a bit. In his eyes, I was deemed special. At least, to a young girl who was in love with horses:
that was the way he made me feel.

One spring day, I was ill and couldn't go to school. Worse, I couldn't go to the banquet to see my special horse friend. So I sat in my room and moped as only an adolescent can!!

Late in the afternoon, an impressive looking car stopped in front of my house. It was my special horse friend and his wife. They had come to see me! I hurried out of my room and sat on the fifth or sixth step of the staircase while he sat two below me. His wife patiently waited while we had our little chat. He told me to hold on to my dreams of owning a horse and to never lose my love for riding or my devotion to the sport.

There were a few bumps along the way and my dream faded from time to time, but his words always came back to me, especially when I was most lost as a young adult. I have achieved most of my desires and today I have taught thousands of children and adults to ride to the best of their ability. There have also been some special horses that I managed to stumble upon that I have been thrilled to ride or train.

In my travels, I have met so many wonderful people:
the wealthy owner, the working student and the families.
Regardless of their backgrounds, they share a common desire to ensure the welfare
of the horse and the betterment of equestrian sports.

The kindly man who so inspired me was our 40th President of the United States of America,
Ronald Reagan. To a horse crazy little girl, it didn't matter that he was a movie star
and I could see him every week on TV.

What mattered was that he loved horses and was humble enough to share that passion with a shy little girl. He taught me to make my avocation, my vocation: what a priceless gift that was.

(Nancy Reed was a rider and trainer and friend in Southern California.
On February 26, 2017, Nancy passed away after a four year battle with Cancer)

Copyright Willoway Farms, Inc. 2017 All Rights Reserved.
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