One Last Time- Former Top Youth Give Advice to Those Attending Their Final Ford Youth World
Contributed by Melinda Davison
“They grow up so fast.” That’s what Youth riders have probably heard most of their lives, but most never pay attention to it until that times comes: their final Youth World. While showing at any World Show can be an intense and exciting time, the last Youth World is usually a little bit different, a little more overwhelming, and a little more special. To make this moment a little more seamless, four former top Youth exhibitors give some tips and advice for those wrapping up their Youth careers.
Parris Rice (Multiple AQHYA World and Reserve World Champion, multiple Congress Champion)
At the end of the day it is only just a horse show. It is not your defining moment in life, there is still so much more. If you go into that last Youth World like it is your last chance to ever accomplish your dreams, chances are it will backfire from the pressure you have put on yourself. If you go into it with a mindset along the lines of making the best of whatever the horse show throws your way and rolling with the punches, it is going to be so much more fun and memorable. Which, after it is all said and done, that is all it is, a wonderful, life-changing memory. There are so many things you can’t control showing horses, so you might as well control what you can (your mindset, attitude, and ride) and leave the rest up to God, The Universe, or Fate. Whatever it is you choose to put faith in. I wish you all the best of luck!
Samantha Chiodo (AQHYA World Champion, multiple Congress Champion)
First of all, relax and take a breath. There is a reason you’re in that arena. It’s the years of hard work, late nights, and really early mornings. It’s the extra twenty minutes you spend on your own practicing. It’s the time you’ve spent watching the people you look up to. It’s the countless hours you’ve spent in the saddle and running your legs off practicing showmanship. It’s the literal sweat, blood, and tears that have gotten you where you are. You’re in that arena because you belong there. So the biggest advice I have for you is to act like you deserve it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help and spend some time watching others. You would be amazed by the people willing to help you out if you just ask. I know that at every youth world, not just my last one, if we (my trainer Beckey Schooler and I) ever had a question about a line in a pattern or “is that a hand gallop, or an extended canter?” we would ask somebody else! It never hurts to get a second opinion, and more importantly a fresh set of eyes. I can’t tell you the countless times I have asked for other’s advice, whether it was something as silly as “is my lower leg moving?” or on a part of a pattern. As far as watching goes, that speaks for itself. It has never failed me to spend some time in the stands just digesting what the pattern looks like and watching how my fellow competitors were laying out their patterns. It is a good way to start a game plan and visualize how you want your pattern to look. Sit with a couple different people, including the ones you asked advice from, and talk about what you like and don’t like.
Stop telling yourself that this is it. Yes, it’s your last youth world – but this is not IT. You never know where life is going to take you. I can say that winning the youth world in 2012 has been my favorite moment in my life thus far. Where am I going with this? Well, I sold my horse right after the World Show in 2012, and I felt empty, and more importantly I never knew if I would even have the chance to own a horse again. But, as it turns out and much to my surprise my parents just bought a baby out of my old mare, Artifactually A Star. So, there will be a place for me in the horse industry in the future that I never saw coming! Also, as a co-captain of the University of South Carolina’s Equestrian Team I can put my right hand up and solemnly swear that if I hadn’t won that World Championship in 2012, I would be happy because the team has given me more than just 3 SEC Championship rings, trophies, and a Runner-up National Championship title and other personal accomplishments. The team is family to me and that’s more than I could ever put into words. So, I hope that resonates with you, this is NOT it.
Have fun. As we all know, this is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It consumes all of your time that’s not spent working or at school, and you should at least enjoy it! I encourage each of you to look around and just take it all in. Think about all of the people you’ve met and friendships you’ve made by just doing what you love to do. These people will be in your life for a long time, if not forever. So, whenever you can, laugh and have fun with these people and especially enjoy the four legged animals that have brought us all together.
Logan Pluhar (AQHYA World Champion, Congress Top Five)
My greatest advice for those youth that are on the doorstep of their last Youth World: make sure you leave with no regrets. It doesn’t matter if your goals going in involve a world title or your goal was just qualifying for the World Show in the first place. At the end of the show, if you can look back and say you did everything you could do to try and fulfill that goal, then you’ve been successful. If that means that you will feel a little sleep deprived from all the 2 am rides or your feet are a little sore from running around in your showmanship boots for hours, then go out and do it. Don’t leave anything in the warmup pen or that famous walk-in chute down to the Jim Norick. Take all that you’ve worked for and present every last bit of it to the judges. And most importantly, experience all that there is to do at your last youth world! Eat several chocolate chip cookies from the Sweet Shop, watch as many finals as you can, cheer on your fellow peers, and maybe throw in a few golf cart races while you’re at it! It’s not like you’re getting paid to be there, so don’t take it too seriously.
Ariel Herrin (Multiple AQHYA World Show Top Ten, Congress Champion)
My best advice is to ENJOY it! It’s so easy to get caught up in the “LAST” Youth World mentality that the pressure of it overcomes the enjoyment! The Youth World was the biggest highlight of my year, because it was the only week of the year that all my friends, whatever corner of the country they’re from, were all in the same place, and despite some grueling hours of practice in the OKC heat, time doing what I love with my closest friends is something to cherish. I know going into my last Youth World, I was thrilled. I had a great summer preparing, and I was very excited. By that time I had a system for the World Show that I found to be successful for me, and now it was just time to go do it! For a lot of people, this is the last time at the World Show for a while, and I say the best thing to do is just lay everything you’ve got out there. There is NO better feeling than walking out knowing your best ride was in that arena. Also, don’t be too sad about showing as an amateur, OKC in November offers much more comfortable temperatures than August!