Horsin' Around (by Mallory Schwer)

Horsin’ Around

How showing horses has impacted the lives of some of our students

By Mallory Schwer

To these Delta students, horses aren’t just farm animals, but family. 

Horse shows are judged exhibitions of the quality, obedience, and showmanship of horses/ponies. It takes time, hard work, dedication and persistence to gain success in the equestrian world. 

Amid the COVID-19 virus, the girls have been able to remain training their horses, while practicing social distancing, in the barn and outside. However, competitions such as regionals, nationals and other regular shows have been canceled. Online versions of showing will be created, but how that will play out right now is yet another uncertainty.

How do these equestrians go above and beyond competing in horse shows throughout the Midwest?
Rhian with horse

Rhian Cline rides her horse, Quest, during training. Rhian has been ranked sixth in the nation at the 2019 IEA Nationals in Oklahoma. (Photo provided)

RHIAN CLINE (Freshman) 

Horse shows mainly include preparing your horse, but also yourself. Tail and mane brushed, clean coat, and a clean face is something you strive for your horse to have before entering the show ring. You also are responsible for your tack to be cleaned, as well as wearing the proper show attire,” says freshman Rhian Cline.

“The longer and longer that you show, the less stressful it can be.”

  Rhian would know, too. She has been showing horses for six years now and has had many great experiences and victories with her horses.

“My most successful show would be between the PC Championships in 2018, or the IEA Nationals in 2019. At PC Champs, my horse and I competed and won in our division, and we were able to meet so many new people. At IEA Nationals in Oklahoma, I had won sixth out of 12 events, which was crazy to me because it was pretty hard to believe that I was ranked sixth in the nation!” she says.

Behind all of her success is a lot of knowledge, training and long hours spent with not only her horse, Quest, but many horses. 

“I ride in a few associations, one being where I show other barns' horses that I have no experience riding it, let alone showing it! This explains why for some of the lessons I take, I ride my coach’s horses,” Rhian says. “The other associations, I am showing my own horse. To prepare both him and me for shows, I make sure that we are working on different exercises and skills that will get us both ready for upcoming shows.”

Spending a lot of time with horses has allowed her to create a deep understanding of the animal she works with and how to manage them, as well as herself.

“With horses, they tend to feel the feelings that you are feeling. So if you are nervous, it can lead to your horse getting nervous, too. You just need to remember to take deep breaths. I always make sure to do the same routine that I do before any show. Just like before a game or track meet, I put in my earbuds and listen to music while I am getting ready,” Rhian says.

Horse showing is an all year deal, so it can be easy to get frustrated or caught up in the routine. For Rhian, though, she cherishes every second she has with her horse.

“My favorite memory while showing my horse, Quest, would probably be all of the moments where I can just pat him on the neck and express to him how proud I am of him. Winning is always great, but as long as he does his best, has improved in some way, and has fun while doing it, that's all I care about,” Rhian says.

“Sometimes it can be a lot, but the end result is nothing but worth it.”

Camryn with horse
Camryn Eldridge stands with her horse, Max, before a show. Camryn has shown horses for three years. (Photo provided)


“After I quit dance I was looking for something to do, so I started riding horses and I just fell in love with it,” says sophomore Camryn Eldridge.

Camryn has been showing horses for three years now at Burton Farms and has fallen in love with all of the horses. Camryn shows her horse, Max, in a type of style called dressage.

“Basically, you ride the horse and complete a certain obstacle course. The judges critique you off how well you’re staying even on the horse, how you turn the horse….  What they’re looking for is pretty much your professionalism on the horse,” explains Camryn.

This puts pressure on Camryn to make sure not only Max is performing well, but also herself. 

“We do things in practice to just help communicate and ride with the horse to make us not only better riders, but our horses better horses,” Camryn says.

Horse showing can be stressful for not only the rider, but also the horses. Making sure the horse knows what it needs to be doing by contanty training and reassuring it, is a must. Equestrians form a unique bond with their horse; even if the horse is stubborn on some days, the rider must always encourage and love the horse.

“It’s hard to get your horse to stay motivated and under control to be doing the things they need to be doing, but you just have to keep training and trusting in your horse,” she says.


After showing horses riding the western style for 10 years now, junior Lily Klinger has been able to advance to semi-nationals as an individual, which is a major accomplishment. “My mom got me into showing horses when I lived in Texas because she grew up around horses and wanted me to as well,” Lily says. 

Lily and her team, The Stride By Stride Equestrian team, put in a lot of time and energy caring for their horses. “Horses need a lot of attention. I feed and water them, ride them, clean stalls, keep track of their health and give them a nice home,” she says.

Not only does Lily spend time in the barn training the horses, she also travels around to show them. Lily shows her horse, Molly, all throughout Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, and has been to Kentucky for one of her bigger shows.

“The hardest part of showing horses is that training takes a lot of work and you can’t stop or you will lose lots of progress,” Lily says.

Lily loves the atmosphere of it all and has created life-long friendships throughout the process.

“It is really fun. The environment and the people you meet are great,” she says.