Horse Show Survival Tips from Team SmartPak Rider Deanna Searles
Jim and Deanna Searles are the proud owners and operators of Circle S Ranch, a full-service training and boarding facility in Scottsdale, Arizona. With a focus on training for All-Around events, the Searles and their clients have gone on to achieve some of the highest levels of competition and earned many prestigious awards.
A busy barn means a busy schedule – frequently traveling between horse shows. At the end of October, the Searles were wrapping up their time at the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, OH. Just a short time later, the team was back on the road heading off to Oklahoma City for the AQHA World Show. How do they balance such a busy schedule, you might ask? We caught up with Deanna at the World Show, and asked her for tips and tricks for surviving a busy horse show schedule!
You’ve been competing at the AQHA World Show for quite a few years. What are some of your top tips and tricks for “surviving” and thriving at a horse show like this?
Tip 1: Staying Healthy – “We do our best to try and stay healthy, which when it comes to being at horse shows, means going outside as much as possible. We do our best to ride in the outside arena (weather permitting) that way we have an opportunity to get some fresh air.”
Tip 2: Don’t Stress – “One thing I tell my clients is to remember that it’s just a horse show and not to stress too much about it. Of course, sometimes that is easier said than done.”
Tip 3: Take A Breather – “It’s also important to remember to take a few moments to yourself, whether it is a dinner, breakfast, or just grabbing a cup of coffee.”
What are some strategies you use to manage your time between your clients and your own show horses?
“Multitasking is never easy for me, but I have found that time management is of the essence. Time seems to fly by when you’re at an event like the World Show. Preparing the clients and their horses is why we are all there. We try to help the clients, and ride or prepare our own show horses at the same time. We try to give lessons while we are on our show horses. That way we can demonstrate what we are talking about to help them. When we are done with the lesson then we focus on our show horses.”
You showed at Congress throughout the month of October, and then went right to the World Show in November. Obviously, this a busy time for the horses as well. How do you support your horses during this busy time of year?
“We try and turn the horses out if possible wherever we layover in between shows. We also support our horses with supplements in SmartPaks – both on the road and when we’re at home. We keep our horses on a regular training schedule, so it’s important that they receive support all-year long.
Many of our horses are on SmartCombo Ultra, which is a comprehensive all-in-one joint, hoof, skin, and digestive supplement – these are all areas of the horse that need support when at shows. We also have many of our horses on SmartLytes, which encourages healthy hydration and helps to replenish their electrolytes.”
Tell us about the horses you’ve shown this year.
“We have a number of young horses this year that we were showing in Trail, Western Riding and Pleasure. The young ones take more time because you’re educating them on the sights and sounds of new facilities.
Congress this year was a big high for us – Circle S trainer Chris Holbin won the Junior Western Riding on VS Game Changer for our client Kathy Tobin. We also won the 2-year-old masters Hunter Under Saddle class at Congress with the Best Jazz Album Yet. Having our young horses compete and be rewarded for their talents is very exciting. Our senior horses were also exceptional with our clients this year. Trevor and Jeff Johns both came home with Western Riding wins on Lopen for a Chex. Their mother Susie Johns and aunt Kathy Tobin also had success in the show pen. We had one of our best Congresses ever!
Coming from the Congress to the World Show, we had no expectations because we exceeded them at the Congress. We have been showing these horses all year and our clients have done quite well on them throughout the year.”