"He isn't the best mover but I love him and trust him," her mother, professional horse trainer, Vicky Holt said. "The most important thing to me was that Haylee was safe, had a great experience, and nothing bad happened."
This year’s Congress theme of “Great Dreams Begin With A Dreamer”
fits perfectly as many horse show exhibitors start their showing
careers competing in the Small Fry Horsemanship at the Congress. The last installment of our Small Fry article is of Haylee Holt, daughter of Wayne and Vicky Holt. Check out the profile of this accomplished rider, student, and cheerleader.
AQHA judge Suzy Jeane has judged the Small Fry before at the Congress
and also judged it again this year. "I just love
watching all the horses taking care of the young riders in the pen. The
horses know they have inexperienced riders on them, and they always
seems to know they are supposed to take extra care of them."
trainer Dianne Eppers has helped many children over the years in this
class, and she has seen many grow up and go on to become successful
individuals inside and outside the show arena. “It is a great class to
watch, and what fun following these little tykes through their show
career. I remember helping Stacey Reichert (JR's sister) and Riley Smith
(Russ Smith's son) and now they are grown," Dianne said. "It is fun to
watch the parents as much as the kids. What a great foundation for our
industry. Hurray for the Small Fry's!”
GoHorseShow.com talked to
past Small Fry competitors and their parents about memories of showing
at the Congress at such a young age. We also asked them what advice they
may have for parents wanting their children to compete and be
successful in this class.
We talked to Candy Parrish and her mom, Darlene Trein; Kerry Papendick and her
daughter Ali; Tammy Benes and her young daughter Cydney; Becky Galyean
and her oldest son, Garrett; Hannah Casper and her daughter Caroline
"Carly"; Vicky and Wayne Holt and their daughter, Haylee; Dianne Eppers,
her daughter Valerie Kearns and her daughter Nya, and Jessica Baird and
her mom, Jamie.
11 year-old Haylee Holt, the daughter of proud parents, Wayne and Vicky Holt, competed in the Small Fry Horsemanship last year on her mount, Zippin Country KC. According to Haylee, the 10 year-old gelding has been known to like to lick people and has a sweet personality. "There were a lot of other kids showing in the class, but I wasn't that nervous because I am used to performing at cheerleading competitions," Haylee said. "I have also been around it since I was a little girl."
Haylee and her parents were excited that she placed eighth in the class last year. "He isn't the best mover but I love him and trust him," her mother, professional horse trainer, Vicky said. "The most important thing to me was that Haylee was safe, had a great experience, and nothing bad happened."
Vicky adds, "I was a little nervous because there was a lot of people and anything could go wrong, but she is an incredible showman, has incredible rhythm and a very natural seat. She rode in front of me in the saddle changing leads when she was a baby--I remember her saying--'Hmm-change, Hmm-change', down the whole line when I was changing leads a few years ago. It was so cute."
Haylee's father, Wayne, said it was exciting to see her show, and he was extremely proud of her, "She wasn't on a multimillion dollar horse. She was on a steady eddy horse, so it was important to not set unrealistic expectations because there are no guarantees. I thought her placing 8th was just perfect. It was also great to see a lot of my friends' children competing."
Now in 6th grade, Haylee shows horses when time permits, but her parents stress that her academics are her first priority. She also loves to hang out with her friends, and play volleyball. One of her future goals is to show at the Youth World. Go Haylee!
UPDATE: Congratulations to Nya Kearns for winning Reserve in the Small Fry Horsemanship on Saturday. GoHorseShow.com wrote a profile about Nya's experience last year, but, luckily, we were able to watch her in person this year, and Nya was a star. Check out her comments from this year and also her experience showing last year.
Nya's proud mother, Valerie Kearns, says, "After 5th place was announced today, 'Nya said, I guess I'm not going to get anything,' but luckily she was wrong. She did so well today, we are so proud of her." Valerie adds, "This year was a lot better for me. I was less nervous and more confident that Nya could handle anything that happened in the arena. I'm just glad that she did better than last year."
Nya remarked, "I'm really excited about how well me and Marian did today."
Check out the profile below about her experience from last year. GoHorseShow.com congratulates you on your success and know that your grandmom Dianne Eppers and your mom and dad are very proud of you!
The daughter of Valerie and Brad Kearns, Nya, was eight years-old when she competed in the Small Fry last year. Even though she has been showing since she was three, last year was the first year for her to show at the Congress.
“She loved showing in the class,” her mom and trainer Valerie said. “She knew that people got up in the middle of the night to practice in the arena, and she was insistent that she needed to do that every night in order to be prepared to show. She was in there four nights in a row. We finally got her to sleep the night before she showed.”
Nya showed Marian the Librarian who they bought from Rusty Green. Rusty's mother had shown Marian, as well as his kids, Austin and Deanna who showed and placed with in the Small Fry in recent years.
This talented nine year-old happilytalks about her show experience. “It's the largest show, so I got to show everyone how perfect Marian is. Her name is Marian the Librarian. Her favorite thing to do is eat. I want to continue to show Marian and start to show my reiner, The Far Slide.”
Valerie mentions that she was a nervous wreck getting ready and watching her daughter show. “It was by far the hardest class that I have ever had to get a person or horse ready for,” Valerie admits. “I had to remember to take a deep breath. Breathing was by far the hardest part.”
Kearns also remembers how proud Nya was when she came out of the pen. “She was 7th and couldn't believe that she made the finals the first year she showed at the Congress. She couldn't stop talking about how great Marian was and that she was so proud of her. It was a great moment!”
It has been fun to watch Nya progress since she was three, proud grandmom Diane Eppers says. “She has grown in her maturity and riding skills and has stayed active in showing consistently, so we feel that she is more prepared. It's all about the ride and having a good time, so we are excited just to show.”
Her mom, Tammy Schuster-Benes has been showing horses all her life, and she influenced her daughter, Cydney, to become involved with horses. In 2007, at the age of nine, Cydney showed Photons a Ten to a fifth place in the Small Fry.
"I was nervous but excited," says Cydney. "Showing at the Congress is the biggest show to show at in the world, and it helped me at the world show this year having the experience from then."
Benes remembers, that, "It was a crazy loud class to show in with trainers and parents screaming from the rail to their kids. I also remember making all the semi's and finals and waiting anxiously to see if I pinned."
Her advice to the riders is to "make sure your horsemanship skills are perfect, as it is usually judged on horsemanship on the rail. Be positive and try your best!"
Since the Small Fry, Benes best results has been placing in the Top 10 in 3 events at the Congress last year: showmanship horsemanship and pleasure. "I am really excited for the Congress this year, as, I will be showing my western horse (Rockin Raisinette) as well as my mom's new hunt seat horse (Call Me Blazin Hot)."
Cydney's mother, Tammy, says that she rode every second with her daughter when she showed in the Small Fry. "It is definitely a nerve racking class and it is amazing what a crowd drawing class it appears to be."
Tammy Schuster-Benes is no stranger to the Congress and she is largely known for her clothing company, All That Show Clothing. Tammy dresses several of the Small Fry Competitors every year. "I will be at the Congress early, and will have time to help any Small Fry Competitors that still need an outfit for the Congress, so, stop by my booth to find the perfect outfit for your little one."
Caroline "Carly" Casper
Hannah and Ronnie Casper's daughter was six years-old when she competed in the Small Fry. "At the time it was very nerve racking. I had lots of fun though. The arena seemed so huge. My mom was more nervous than I was. My Small Fry horse was named, RL Classy Doll, she was a small bay mare. "
Carly's mother, Hannah adds, "She absolutely loved it. The same year she won the GQHA Non Pro Weanling Halter Futurity out of 38, showing against all adults, and won the Youth Weanling Mares at the Congress. Those were very thrilling for her as well."
Her trainers were Mike and Cheryl Hawkins. "They did a fantastic job. We couldn’t have ever asked for more. They are wonderful with the kids, and so patient," Hannah said. "Maegan, their daughter was a big help to Carly too. Kind of like a mentor for her."
Hannah recommends drinking a very large glass of wine before the class. She remembers being so nervous that she can't even describe the feeling. "I think any parent with children competing at this level can tell you that it may be the most nerve racking thing in the world. But no matter how nervous Ronnie and have ever been when she is showing…we couldn’t be more thrilled just to see her out there trying. Ronnie has always told her that its all about try, not what you come out with."
Her showing has definitely prepared her to be a responsible teenager, her mom remarks. "We have always taught her that the animals come first. They can't feed themselves, and they are kind of helpless without us to take care of them. So before going to the movie or the game etc, her chores must be done with the horses and other animals she has," she said. "Hours of practice at a very young age taught her unbelievable self discipline. Especially in the athletic program she is in now."
Since the Walk Trot at the Congress where she placed 6th, Carly has gone on to win the Congress three more times in halter and show two Reserve World Champions. She has also won MVP on her basketball team for 2 years and hopes to play ball in college and study criminal law.
Carly says she would like to thank her family, horse show friends, walk trot trainers, Mike and Cheryl Hawkins, Randy Jacobs, Jason Smith, Jerry Wells, and many other of her dad's friends. "But most of all if it wasnt for my dad and my grandma, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish most of the endeavors in my life so far."
Hannah gives a lot of credit to the Congress for making her daughter have the drive and want, as well as discipline to be successful in many aspects of her life outside of horses. "I hope that the Congress continues to build dreams and make them come true for lots of people forever!"
Jessica competed in the Small Fry in 1998 when she was nine years-old. "The experience was exhilarating. It was the first time I had ever ridden in a class at the Congress which made me extremely nervous. Everyone in the barn made sure I was 110% ready, from the make-up, to my clothes, to my horse's feet being hoof blacked, every element of the picture was perfectly in place," she said. "As I said before, I was extremely nervous, but my role model, Mindy Hoffman, was in my barn at the time and she made everything seem calm and collected. Her words of encouragement were the best. Her support and encouragement enabled me to do my absolute best. Thank you Mindy!"
Her parents bought her, My Cash Prescription (Shy), for her as a surprise. "Shy was a great first horse to learn from. She was extremely honest in the show ring and was a blast to show."
With the Congress being Baird's first major event she competed, it definitely proved to her that to be the best she had to practice hard and be persistent. "In order to be on top, it takes extra hours in the saddle. Showing at the Congress definitely proved to me that average is never acceptable."
"I will never forget the excitement on everyone's face when I placed sixth. I'll especially never forget all of the hugs and tears of joy from my mom."
Jessica's advice for parents is to, keep it fun! "When kids are just starting in the horse world, keep the event fun but structured. Children are hard enough on themselves when things go wrong. As parents, (and having a parent who did this) be the person at the gate telling them what a good job they did. Stay positive."
Jessica's mother, Jamie, also recommends having a trainer that suits you and the child the best. "To be a winning team, the child, the parent, and the trainer must have the same goals (and price range.) Furthermore, be sure that the trainer you chose is a honest, trustworthy person whom uses constructive criticism." Jamie adds, "Always praise your child."
Since the Small Fry, Jessica has been fortunate to continue to show and in August of 2007, her lifelong dream came true. She was chosen as the 2007 Showmanship Youth World Champion with her horse, Assigned With Love (Emma). "The title still to this day seems surreal. Emma was not only a horse but a partner and words could never express how thankful I felt to have accomplished such an incredible goal with such an amazing animal."
Jessica adds, "Showing horses has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. It has not only taught me how far hard work and dreams can get me, but also how much passion can drive a person. I show horses because I love the game. I love the countless hours spent in the saddle perfecting my ride. Most of all though, I love the bond that is developed in the process."
Garrett Galyean, the son of Gil and Becky Galyean, showed in the
Small Fry last year when he was 9 years-old. He placed sixth with a
beautiful bay mare named, Ill Be Famous In Time, better known as, "Pork
Chop" because of her tendency for being a little chubby.
Garrett said that he remembers that it was really cold down in the
arena when he showed. He also remembers preparing the whole year for his
class. "I would come home everyday from school and ride her," he said.
Becky Galyean said that it taught him about responsibility and
setting goals. It was a great learning experience for him," Becky said.
"I was proud of him no matter how he had done. I'll never forget his
face when he was smiling and said that he was so happy that he did it."
Garrett who is now in the 4th grade says he doesn't plan to show
anymore because he is currently into cattle and football. He also says
he likes to ride his mother's Cutting horse, but just for fun.
His mother, Becky says that her son currently wants to become a
cattle rancher in Wyoming. "They grow up so fast. Parents just need to
enjoy the moment because they don't stay little for very long."
Multiple World and Congress Champion Ali Papendick may be known in the industry as showing one of the greatest western riding horses of all time, Harley D Zip, but many people may not know that she started her illustrious show career in the Small Fry Horsemanship at the Congress.
Ali competed in the class in 2000 when she was ten years-old. “I had so much fun in the Small Fry," Ali told GoHorseShow.com. "I just remember looking up at the crowd and couldn't believe how many people were watching. As far as being nervous or stressed, I don't think I was. At that age, I don't think I really had a clue on how big the Congress really was. I was just out there to have some fun and show my horse.”
The horse she rode was a mare named Ima Triple Zip, aka "Jewel". Her mom, Kerry, had bought her, and she was their first big time western pleasure horse. “She had the cutest baby step jog that my mom couldn't turn down the idea of having me show her in the Small Fry at the Congress.”
At this time, the Papendick's who are from South Dakota, were training with Scott Neuman from Billings, Montana. The Small Fry was the first time Ali had competed at the Congress and being 10th was the biggest award she had won up to that point in her show career. “I was so shocked and excited that this only made me want to keep showing and further my goals. At that time, my goals were to come back to the Congress and show in the 11 and Under Western Pleasure."
Small Fry needs to be a fun, lighthearted process,” Ali's mom, Kerry says. “Your young kids can sense if your too nervous, serious or stressed out over the event, then that's how they will perform too. I feel the Small Fry event definitely started Ali reaching for more horse show dreams. Parents just need to nurture the dream along.”
Ali's advice for parents that have children wanting show the small fry is to encourage them. “At that age, just the experience will be good, and I think at that especially at that age showing horses shouldn't be about winning, it should be about having fun. I know that I wasn't going in there wanting to place or win, I just wanted to be out showing my horse because that's what I loved to do.”
"The experience of having your child in the Small Fry is one to cherish," Kerry said. "I remember Ali had this look of ‘I love my horse’ on her face. I really wasn't nervous, more proud than nervous.”
When Ali got older, her goals and dreams of being a multiple Congress and World Champion were finally realized. “I remember always watching the Congress and World Champion take their victory laps, and I would get goosebumps in the stands. I would always think how cool that would be to be in their shoes right now and it was a goal that I hoped I could achieve sometime in my life.”
Candy, Cody, and Chase Parrish
You cannot write a story about the Congress Small Fry without starting first with the Parrish family. Bret, Candy, Cody and Chase Parrish were all were born into horse
training families. Bret’s late father, Kiff Parrish, did everything from
halter, western pleasure to roping, and Candy’s mother, Darlene Trein
and step-father Dan Trein, train and show all around horses. Cody and
Chase’s parents, Bret and Candy Parrish specialize in training and
showing western pleasure horses.
So, it is no
surprise that the whole family loves horses and have competed ever since
they were children. What is also very special about this family is that
Candy showed in the first ever Small Fry competition at the Congress
where she won her class. She showed Mr Cody Chrome in 1979 when she was 9
"I had fun showing but almost didn’t
get to...Just before the class Chrome got sick, and I remember someone
offered to let me show their horse, but luckily Chrome recovered enough
to make it through the class,” Candy recalls. “I remember following Lynn
Anderson’s (singer) daughter into the show arena, and I remember my mom
fixing my hair in long braids.”
Her two boys, Cody and Chase
followed suit and both won their Small Fry classes over 30 years after
Candy's inaugural win. Cody won the Small Fry in 2002 at the age of
seven on Untouchable Too, and Chase had just turned eight the month
before he won the Small Fry in 2005 on Skipafied. Both of Cody and
Chase’s horses came from Nana and Papa Dan’s barn (Dan & Darlene
Trein). Cody showed, Untouchable Too, who Darlene had in the barn for 15
years with different owners. Chase showed Skipafied who had been owned
and shown by longtime client Denise Folck.
Candy's mother, Darlene
Trein, says that the preparation for the class is more intense these
days, but that the “mother butterfly feelings” are probably about the
same. “It was like watching myself all over again when Candy was
preparing the boys for their classes. I think it is really important to
refer and talk about the Congress all year long to get children
prepared. You need to quietly and mentally prepare them to show. Don’t
scare them. Make it a fun event that is exciting because they get to be
with all their friends.”
For Cody, Chase, and Candy, their Small
Fry win at the Congress was the first time each of them had ever shown
at the Congress. Cody and Chase won wearing the same black “Professional
Bull Riders” shirt and both of them carried two little silver conchos
in their pockets when they showed; those were the conchos their mom put
in her braids when she won her class.
(pictured left), who is now 15, remembers worrying that Untouchable
wouldn’t show well during the class, but he was still excited about
getting the chance to show at the Congress. “Untouchable was about 25
years-old at the time, and he was hard headed but he taught me how to be
a better rider and showman,” Cody said. “I enjoyed showing with all the
other kids and knowing they were some of the best. I was shocked when I
won, but I felt like all my hard work had paid off.”
(pictured bottom right), who just turned 13, remembered that there were
93 kids in his class and that he enjoyed competing because he is a very
competitive person by nature. Chase mentioned that he was surprised,
happy, and excited. “Skippy was a great mare and she taught me a lot."
said that she was just so proud of them. “Cody’s horse was difficult to
show and he had to work very hard. He had to show in a split, a semi
final and a finals before it was all over and each go got better and
better, but I was just so relieved he had made it that far and proud
that he made his horse better every time he went back in the pen,” Candy
said. “Both of them had worked very hard and put a lot of time into
preparing. Chase however is more of a ‘character’ you could say, and he
would practice, but he spent a lot of his practice time clowning around
but just before he hit the gate to the show pen, he would say ‘IT'S
SHOWTIME’ and he turned on his competitive button and he meant
advice for other parents whose children show in this class is to say
lots of prayers. “It is so stressful being a parent preparing your child
to compete compared to being a trainer preparing your client to show,”
Candy remembers. “The mom instincts tend to take over and you begin to
think things like: Will they remember to take up their reins to back?
Did we practice in traffic enough? And lots of crazy things just rush
through your head as you ride each step with them in your heart and
Both Cody and Chase gained experience and confidence
that aided them when they began showing in pleasure classes. Cody never
slowed down after winning the Small Fry; he moved right into the western
pleasure classes. Chase showed in western pleasure for a season after
his Congress win, but he decided to devote his time and energy to
football which is his true passion. From the age of six, Chase has told
his parents that he wants to be an NFL quarterback. Cody most likely
will follow in his parent’s footsteps and train horses; however he is
committed to getting his college education and loves horses and enjoys working at the barn.