GoHorseShow is proud to highlight amateurs and hardworking individuals in the industry who are successful despite challenges. APHA amateur, Randi McCook, fits this description in every respect.
The twenty-two year-old APHA amateur exhibitor of Winfield, Canada may live in a town of fewer than 500 people with a winter that lasts seven months of the year and temperatures that hit minus 40 degrees with no indoor arena, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming one of the top amateurs in the paint industry. McCook and her home-bred mare, Ostentatious Me (Oakley), have over 800 APHA points and earned a top 10 spot in 2010 and 2011 on the Classic Amateur Top 20. This duo is undefeated in the Amateur All-Around for the last two years in Alberta.
"My sister (Ashley McCook Feldberg) owns her, and my mom showed her as a yearling and now I've continued," Randi says. "We call her Smoakley which is short for Smokin Oakley. She is the sweetest, most amazing mare with the biggest heart, and will give you a hundred and fifty percent every time you step on because she loves her job."
This team currently shows in showmanship, halter mares, horsemanship, western pleasure, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, trail, and if offered goat tying! According to McCook, Oakley prefers the pleasure and trail, while she enjoys the showmanship and horsemanship.
"I love the paint horses because there are no two paint horses alike...they are like a one of a kind jacket. The people I have met through the paint horse industry have always been welcoming and kind right from my very first show," she remembers. "I always enjoy going to shows in the different areas to catch up with friends I've met through showing, as well as make new ones. The horse industry offers something for everyone. You can be a recreational rider to a professional trainer in a vast array of disciplines. Yet, we all share one common interest - spending time with our horses."
McCook says she has overcome extreme obstacles to compete on the national level. This Medical Laboratory Assistant says that keeping a show horse fit and ready to go is rather challenging in her part of the country. "For example, it has been snowing for the last two days, accumulating over six inches of snow," she explains. "We are also a minimum of 12 hours from the closest show south of the US/Canada border, and three days (36 hours driving time) to the World Show. These hurdles make it that much more difficult to compete with and at the top level in the industry."
What is also remarkable about this duo is that they don't have a trainer. Her and her mother do it together, and Randi says she tries to participate in as many clinics as possible from trainers to learn as much as she can from professionals in the industry.
McCook has some memorable moments with her horses over the years. In 2004, at her first APHA World Show, Randi was apart of Team Canada for the inaugural Youth World Games.
"The excitement of my first world show and being able to represent my country doing what I love was very memorable and the friendships formed with kids from other countries are opportunities I'll always be thankful for," she says. "Also, the endless miles my mom and I have traveled to shows, rocking out to her favorite traveling CD, Cher's Greatest Hits, are some memories I may never recover from," she says laughing. "My mom and I have become very close through showing horses and all the miles we travel together."
In 2008, Randi earned a APHA Reserve World Championship on AMF Holly Dun in the Youth Breakaway Roping. "Holly was bred, raised and trained here on the farm. My dad and I did all the riding on her, and that made it really special, as well as that was the last time she has been ridden." (pictured right)
McCook adds, "My mother also shows the yearlings in the trail, and last year, I finally convinced her to show under saddle again. I really appreciate all she has done for me, and enjoy our adventures together. She showed at the World Show for the first time in 2011 with our now two year-old colt, Getn My Swerve On, and earned a 4th place finish in the Yearling In Hand Trail. It was so special being able to compete with her at the show, and watch her do so well."
The Canadian native stresses that she would like people to see that it is not impossible to be successful just because you face some challenges.
"I am a small town Alberta girl who had a dream. We didn't have the fanciest rig, most expensive clothes, horses, or tack. Hard work, determination, dedication, and parents who supported me through it all got me to where I am today."
Click here to view Randi and Oakley's ad in the April issue of GoMag.