At the end of this month, the youth careers of several exhibitors will draw to a close. It is a time of sadness, reflection, and looking forward to a new stage in their show careers and life. Many of them will be ending their horse show careers entirely while others will continue to show in the amateur division or turn professional. Regardless of the paths these young men and women choose; it will be filled with some anxiety, but, at the same time, excitement to see what the future holds.
GoHorseShow sat down and talked to five youth exhibitors who have all had successful show careers in APHA including: Paige Stawicki, Kelsey Sadjera, Katie Campbell, Austin Gooding, and Taylor Prince. These talented youth talked about what they will miss showing in the youth division; what they learned during their show careers; their favorite memories and accomplishments; as well as their future goals.
Paige Stawicki---Paige Stawicki of Argyle, Texas says that she is still in disbelief that her youth career is over. "It seems like just yesterday when I was still in walk-trot wondering what it was like to compete with the big girls. Time has definitely flown by," she reflects. (Pictured right)
Stawicki says there has been so many memories throughout her journey, but some of her favorites include: hauling up and down the road with her mom, eating at their favorite restaurants at certain shows, and all the times spent with her show friends.
"I will definitely miss the group of competitors that I've grown up with over the years. So many girls showing situation changes after their youth career," Paige says. "I just feel like the little group that you were guaranteed to see at the shows because we were all hauling for top twenty points will never be the same again."
Paige says she learned so much about discipline, hard work, and friendships. "I've grown up with the privilege of having my horse and being able to show, and knowing that any of that could be taken away from me in a heartbeat made me work that much harder for everything. Showing, without a doubt, has made me the person I am today."
Sadly, her APHA career is over, but she will continue to show for the University of Georgia's equestrian team. Paige says she hopes to be an asset to her team. This striking blonde finished out her youth career by winning a Reserve Youth World Championship in Western Riding 14-18 with HR Zip Me (Speck).
Stawicki says that her favorite accomplishment was winning her number one title in 2010. "It was the best way to for me to leave everything I loved so much. Speck and I thrive on proving everyone wrong, and I feel like coming out on top did just that."
Kelsey Sajdera--Paint and Pinto youth exhibitor Kelsey Sajdera says she may be a little melancholy knowing that she cannot go back to her youth shows days come January 1st, 2012. However, Sajdera says that she accomplished her goals as a youth competitor and really has no regrets.
"I think that my favorite memory was when I would go to the Pinto shows and all the youth kids would sit in a circle on their horses before our class just talking about random topics," Kelsey recalls. "We would all get along and joke around. However, once we went in the show ring we were all business and then we could come back out, get back in our circle and laugh like nothing ever happened. The placings never mattered."
Showing horses has taught Kelsey responsibility, dedication, and that a lot of hard work and patience pays off. "Some people think that showing horses is easy. However, it takes a long time to build a bond between the horse and rider. The horse counts on you for everything," she says.
Currently, Sajdera is a freshman at Purdue Lafayette in the College of Agriculture. She hopes to become a sales representative for a major animal feed or pharmaceutical company upon graduation. "My passion for horses and animals in general has steered me in the direction of my career choice. I do plan on showing as an amateur locally, and, I am excited to move up and start the whole process all over again," she says.
Kelsey says that everytime she shows her horse, Gunner, and they have a good ride--it is an accomplishment for them. She doesn’t count the ribbons and awards as much as she treasures the bond she has with such a magnificent animal.
Taylor Prince---Taylor Prince of Las Vegas, Nevada is probably one of the most celebrated youth in APHA history. This multiple world champion has made her mark in the show arena with her mare, One Flashy Sensation. Prince plans to continue her winning traditions in the amateur division.
"It will definitely be interesting competing against my mom and some others that I couldn't imagine showing against because they are so much older than me. My mom says she is looking forward to beating me--we will have to see about that," Taylor says and laughs.
Prince says she is looking forward to having fun at the shows. "When I was a youth, I always striving to be number one, but now I think I just want to relax and enjoy going to the shows and eventually have fun showing my mare's babies."
Taylor has also been making her mark on the TCU Equestrian team in the Horsemanship. "I learned a lot about sportsmanship in the youth division," she says. "I make sure to reward others when they do well and keep everything in perspective. Since, I am part of a team now; it is definitely important to maintain a good attitude and be supportive of everyone."
Prince is majoring in Fashion Merchandising and has an internship next year at Neiman Marcus in Las Vegas and would eventually like to be a buyer for a department store like Saks Fifth Avenue. Prince says that she is well aware that she is lucky to have a horse like One Flashy Sensation, and a trainer like Sara Simons. Taylor says she would like to thank the Simons and her parents for helping make her youth career an amazing success.
Austin Gooding---Austin Gooding of Fennville, Michigan also says he is sad that his youth career is over but at the same time he is looking forward to showing in a new age division and against different people.
His two favorite accomplishments during his youth career involve showing in the western pleasure. The first one happened in 2009 at the APHA Youth World Show when Gooding was Reserve World Champions in the 14-18 Western Pleasure with Oh Good Heavens. The second one and most recent was being Reserve Congress Champions at the 2011 All American Quarter Horse Congress in the Novice Youth 14-18 Western Pleasure with RL Sudden Style.
"I will miss going in June to the APHA Youth World Show and seeing all my friends. I haven't missed any World Shows since I have been born," Austin says. "Showing horses, you learn a lot of people skills, especially being a trainer's son--you learn how to run a good business. Honesty is a must to make it."
Austin said his best memory as a youth was in 2006 when he went and stayed with the Simons family a few weeks before the world show so they could help him with his horse, Sacrifice.
"I learned so many things from them in that short time and also got lots of help from Jeffrey Gibbs who worked for them at the time. I also got to ride with Mike Hachtel while I was down there, and he helped me throughout my youth career. It was a great experience," Austin recalls.
Gooding will continue showing in Amateur next year on, Figure On Fancy, a 2007 AQHA/APHA gelding, in western pleasure at the paint and quarter horse shows.
"I would like to win the APHA World Show at some point in my career and my goal for this year is to make the Amateur Pleasure finals at the Quarter Horse Congress. I also at some point would like to qualify for the Quarter World and go compete there."
As far as career goals, Austin plans to go to college and continue showing as an amateur and probably turn professional after he graduates from college. We wish him the best of luck!
Katie Diane Campbell---19 year-old Katie Campbell of South Bend, Indiana said that she would be lying if she did not say she was sad that her youth career is over--but she is also excited to see what challenges will come her way during her amateur show career. Her future plans are to return to the show pen once she receives her doctorate in physical therapy. Campbell was heavily involved in sports during the later years of her youth career, but she still says that it has helped shape her into who she is today.
One of her favorite moments during her youth career was when she received a reserve world championship in lead-line at the APHA World Show.
"I did not know exactly what it meant the day I won, but, now that I look back, I realize how special it was to share the win with my family who came to Texas to support me," she recalls.
Campbell says that she learned responsibility, people skills, and teamwork during her youth career as well as learning a talent that she can come back to when she finishes college. Campbell's aunt and uncle are well known trainers, Brent and Julie Harnish.
"I would have to say I will miss showing my youth horse, Born Zippin Free," Katie tells GoHorseShow. "He was my best friend and no matter how my day was he always put a smile on my face. The bond we had was a very special bond and that is what I will miss the most."