By Susan Winslow
Multiple Championship exhibitor Mackenzie Matthews comes by her love of horses naturally. The daughter of longtime AQHA exhibitors Robin Matthews and Terry Wilkerson, Mackenzie inherited her passion for horses and competition from her family. Her success as a Congress and Reserve Congress Champion, AQHYA Reserve L2 and Bronze L2 Champion, and multiple Top 10 exhibitor may be attributed to a combination of innate talent, strong work ethic, and loving family support. This talented young woman is a rising college sophomore who is committed to her sport, takes action to make things happen, and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.
As a student-athlete on the University of South Carolina Gamecock Equestrian Team, Mackenzie has successfully navigated the demands of adjusting to college life, commitment to the team, and continuing her success in the show pen with her horse, Virtually Perfect, also known lovingly as “VP” or “Veepers.” She has found a way to make it work, traveling from school in Columbia, South Carolina to Argyle, Texas where VP is in training with Jenny and Robin Frid.
Mackenzie was on the Dean’s list during her freshman year and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Horsemanship Team. She has found a way to balance friends, shows, studies, and her commitment to her team with admirable grace, and she credits much of her ability to do this to the strong female role models in her life: her mother, Jenny, and her Nana, known to all as Miss Mary.
“My Nana took my Mom to her first AQHA show in 1972,” Mackenzie says. “Nana was terrified of horses, but she didn’t let that stop her from taking my Mom to lessons and shows. Nana continued to be supportive of my horse craze, too, until she passed in 2013. My entire family is super-supportive of the horses, and I always love it when my family can make it to shows. When I won the Congress Small Fry in 2009, I remember my grandfather hugged me so hard that my white hat fell off into the black dirt, and we were all horrified! But that’s still the best day for me, just having everyone there like that.”Click here to read the complete article