Copyright Willoway Farms, Inc. 2022 All Rights Reserved.
A Guide for Horse Show Moms
Kathy Johnson, Willoway Farm, Scottsdale, AZ
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
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
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
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
3. Make sure you are staying
at the “correct” hotel where “everyone”
else is staying or you will be in the doghouse
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
5. PLEASE let your trainer
handle all bad behavior on your child’s
Now some real advise just to Mom behavior continued…
Make sure that “Susie” thanks the
Make sure that “Susie” thanks her
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).
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.
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.
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).
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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Promise as a Horse Trainer
Johnson, Willoway Farm, Scottsdale, AZ
am Kathy Johnson, trainer at Willoway Farm, Scottsdale,
AZ and I vow to uphold these truths in my training
and lesson program.
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
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
4. I promise that I will get your horse to its
highest possible level, even if that means sending
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,
3. I promise that I will always try to do my best
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
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Common Love United a Horse-Crazy Girl
and a Special Friend
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"
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)
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