By: Brittany Bevis
Sometimes, even the best laid plans go awry. Despite hours of preparation and careful planning, you simply cannot prepare for every possible eventuality that might happen. This is never more true than in the show pen.
In 2017, the lights went out in the Jim Norick Arena at the AQHA Youth World Show while a competitor was completing her Horsemanship finals pattern. That rider was Nya Kearns. Despite the power outage, she continued her pattern as if nothing at all had taken place. The crowd’s response to her tenacity was incredible.
How would you react in that moment when everything goes wrong? Broken tack, a wardrobe malfunction, or adverse weather conditions are certainly nothing you can prepare for and are entirely out of your control. Still, would you respond with grace in the midst of adversity?
This year, at the AQHA Youth World Show, 17-year-old Giorgia Medows displayed that sense of maturity and tact when she dealt with her own set of unfortunate circumstances.
Giorgia was riding her brother’s 13-year-old gelding, Wimpys Showstopper, during the Horsemanship finals and was about halfway through an impressive pattern when suddenly everything went wrong. Midway through her large fast circle, her horse’s tail started to slip out of its fastening. It trailed along behind Showstopper for a ways until it finally fell out. At that point, it didn’t pose too much of a problem, that was until Giorgia had to change directions and ride back on her original path, which directed her horse right at the tail that was now sitting in the middle of the pen. The sight startled Showstopper and he balked. At that point, Giorgia realized what had happened, gave her horse a pat, and dismounted to collect her tail. She exited the arena to a round of applause and clapping from the crowd that responded to her grace and maturity in an unfortunate situation.
Some of the most obvious questions might be: Who put in the tail? Were you mad? Do you regret using the tail in the first place? However, that’s not the direction we’re taking, because all of those questions are irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter whether Giorgia put the tail in herself, or if it was a trainer, groom, or parent. It was nobody’s fault. The result is simply that it fell out. Was she mad? After a full year of preparing for the Youth World, to have that particular performance end in such a way, of course she was likely a bit mad. Looking back, does she wish not having used the tail? Hindsight is 20/20. Whether you prefer to use a tail extension or not, the use of the extension is irrelevant. It was used, and it fell out. Instead, what we did speak with Giorgia about is how she reacted to all of these circumstances, how she felt during and after the incident, and what advice she has for others when that moment comes (and you know it will for you, too) when everything goes wrong.
But first, a little background about Giorgia and Showstopper. The 13-year-old gelding is actually a Reining horse that originally belonged to Giorgia’s brother Jack. The Medows family has owned Showstopper since he was just four years old.
“He truly loves his job, which explains why he’s been taken out of retirement so many times! I needed a Horsemanship horse at the beginning of June 2019, so that’s when Showstopper began his role in Horsemanship. Prior to that, I’d only shown him in Reining a handful of times.”
The Medows family has a long history in the horse industry. Giorgia’s parents actually met through showing Quarter Horses when they were in the youth division, so Giorgia has been around horses as long as she can remember.
She has won at the Quarter Horse Congress nine times and has been named the All Around Youth and Reserve All Around Youth Champion. She has multiple Top Ten finishes in Horsemanship at the Youth World and two 13 and Under Championships and a Reserve Championship.
“To make the finals at the Youth World is such a huge accomplishment, and we were able to achieve that for the second year in a row! Showstopper has come so far in Horsemanship over the last year, and this was a great pattern for us. He was knocking it out until the unfortunate luck we had. I didn’t realize the tail had fallen out until I caught a glimpse of it in my left turn. I was in shock for sure! It felt very surreal.”
“Showstopper couldn’t have been any better than he was. I was so happy with him in my pattern. I knew that this wasn’t his fault; any horse would’ve done the same thing in that situation. He’s part of the family, and I couldn’t have been prouder of what we’ve already accomplished. Of course there were tears shed, because he was so great in the rest of the pattern, but I realized there’s nothing I could do to change it. I was already blessed with the best go I’ve ever had in Horsemanship.”
Because Giorgia has been showing for most of her life, this certainly isn’t the first time something has gone wrong in the show pen. When you show horses, it’s not a matter of if something goes wrong but when.
“Of course I’ve had plenty of mistakes in the show pen, but I’ve never had something like this. My best advice would be to keep your head up. There’s always another show. It’s not about what goes wrong. It’s how you react to it. Showstopper has come so far in a year, and I know if we keep the hard work up, we’ll be a stronger team next year!”
Despite the circumstances, the show certainly wasn’t over for Giorgia as she was named the World Champion in both the L2 and L3 Ranch Riding and was a bronze champion in L3 Western Pleasure.
Do you have a story that we should write about? Email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration.