From Dead Last to Over $22,000 in Earnings - What I Learned in My First Full Year Showing in the NRCHA

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Today, I’m excited to share my redemption story.

Back in June of 2017, I qualified for the AQHA World Show in the Amateur Working Cow Horse and the Amateur Reining. As soon as I earned the invitation, I set a goal to make the finals at the World Show. Looking back, I do not believe I could have done more to prepare. Not only did I NOT hit my goal of making the finals, but I also finished dead last.

I remember feeling so disappointed. I didn’t want that to be the outcome. It was so final and such a letdown.

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What happened next was I went home and gave my horse a couple of months off. Then I started mapping out the 2018 show year. I had a fire in my belly! I wanted redemption! I knew my horse could do better, and I wanted to do better.

What I decided to do was schedule one NRCHA show per month during the summer. I chose the smaller ones, closest to home. I had no idea how I’d stack up against the competition in the NRCHA.

I stopped setting goals to win championships or make the finals because I felt like I was messing it up by trying too hard.

For my 2018 goal, I wanted to figure out how to beat the mental game of showing horses. That’s all I wanted to do was step into the arena and have that confidence. No matter the outcome, I wanted to enjoy it.

In the back of my mind, I thought it would be cool to maybe qualify for the NRCHA World Championship Show in February of 2019.

When it came time to start showing, I only entered the lowest level division I was qualified to enter - Novice Non Pro Bridle. This division is for people who have not earned more than $7500 in earnings. I was not going to fork over all the entry fees, drive all those miles, showing a horse I trained myself, after coming off of the AQHA World Show disappointment. That’s why I didn’t bother to enter the Non Pro or Intermediate Non Pro Bridle classes.

I went to three shows and surprised myself. We did well! We were placing deep and winning!

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So then I decided to step out of my comfort zone and enter the Non Pro Bridle Spectacular at the South Point in Las Vegas in August 2018. I wondered if we could step it up and compete with the big dogs?

A little plot twist. A couple of weeks before the Vegas show, I found out my trainer, Brandon Staebler, would not be able to go. I freaked out! Then I remembered my goal of beating the mental game. By this point, when I started feeling anxious, I would tell myself, “It’s just me, it’s my horse, it’s the dirt, it’s the cow.” Those are all the same elements I have at home. As it turns out, Brandon made the drive to Las Vegas and helped me. We ended up 2nd in the Intermediate and 3rd in the Non Pro Bridle Spectacular. We also won all three divisions in the Non Pro Bridle horse show class. We left Vegas with almost $10,000 in prize money, a buckle and cool awards.

Next up was the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno, Nevada. This is a big show that’s been on my bucket list ever since I was a little girl. Once again, we won all three divisions in the Non Pro Bridle. We won a saddle, three buckles, more cool prizes and almost $5000.

Wait. What?! Was this really happening?

Now, everything was starting to have a different twist to it. I started watching the standings. I started thinking I might have a shot at this!

A friend and respected horsewoman kindly let me know I still needed another show under my belt in the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro Bridle if I want to qualify in all three divisions in Fort Worth in February, 2019.

We found one of the last qualifying shows, entered it, placed deep the first day, won all three divisions the second day and earned our invitation to the 2019 NRCHA Celebration of Champions in Fort Worth, Texas in February.

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When the dust settled, and we totaled up all our earnings, we won over $22,000, two saddles, 11 buckles, a ton of cool prizes. We finished first in the NRCHA National Standings in the Novice Non Pro Bridle, third in the Non Pro Bridle and fifth in the Intermediate Non Pro Bridle.

What’s next? We load up for Fort Worth, next week, and go show at the Celebration of Champions!

Girlfriends, no matter where you’re at right now, whatever your passion, you can make it happen. Follow your dream. There’s no reason why you can’t do it.