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March 26 News

Posted by on March 26, 2015

March 26th 2015


Dear Friends and Family of Cottonwood Creek Ranch,

It’s here.  Show season is upon us and I am EXCITED!  We leave for Centennial in just 12 days! Here’s our latest newsletter to catch you all up!


Show Up to Help!

Mandy could still use some help for the Cottonwood Creek Ranch barn show this Saturday March 28th to be held in the academy barn!!  Gate keepers, grooms, etc are all helpful contributers!


Oh Hail!

We did get some killer hail on Wednesday this week!  It was a little over quarter sized and broke holes in many of our skylights!  All of the horses were fine, but the loud banging definitely made them nervous!


Meals on Wheels!

I felt our dinners and Hospitality worked out great last year!  I do need runners, though!  If anyone can escape from the fairgrounds about 2 hours before the evening session begins to pick up the already-been-paid-for food, please let me know!  A day here or there would be awesome!  

Save Our Souls!

…By feeding us!   Anyone who would be able to bring lunch for the grooms any day during the week to the Oklahoma Fairgrounds during Centennial would be our new bestest friend in the whole wide world!  Please let me know if and days Tuesday April 7th – Sunday April 12th would work for you!  We are usually famished by 10:30am….likely due to the fact we’ve already been up for 6 hours by then!


On Schedule!
You should find the Centennial Schedule attached with all of our CCR rider’s classes listed!   If you aren’t showing, please come support your team!  Enjoy the horses, the competition and we usually have grown-up drinks and lots to eat!  About an hour before the evening session enjoy dinner which will be located in the client’s kitchen!  Our horse total you ask?  Looks like we’re bringing 37 horses to show!

The Best Man for the Job!

Welcome to Madi Fitzgerald’s new English Pleasure horse,  Fire Run Best Man “Kaii,”  who arrived here all of the way from Washington State!  The pair already look like a Million bucks and they are just getting started!


Kelly’s Lessons will be cancelled on and between:

Tues April 7-11th……Oklahoma Centennial – OKC, OK

Tues April 28-May 2….Chapter V – Kansas City, MO


Don’t be THAT Person!!

With the first show of the season coming up, I think it’s a great time to touch on our horse show barn Etiquette!


1) They are DRESSING rooms, not LIVING rooms.  Please be respectful of your roommates and allow just ONE attendant per rider in the dressing room at a time.  Family members take up room and make it uncomfortable for the other room mates who are trying to get dressed for their classes (especially male family members in rooms with mostly female riders). Please remember the dressing rooms are for dressing and undressing for your classes.   If the storage of computers, purses, games, etc is causing a lot of traffic please ask me about using an empty trunk to store that equipment.  They can be easily pad locked and even have trunk covers over them.  We always have an awesome sitting area in the front of the barn with chairs, tables and plenty of space for your family to be comfortable and for you to hang out when you are not prepping for a class.  That’s exactly what it’s there for! 


2)  No food or drinks in the dressing rooms.  It never fails, cups are spilled and sticky stuff gets stuck on the most expensive/favorite/newest outfit in the whole room!  We’ve got a great kitchen area and that sitting area in the front of the barn is perfect for your drinks and food.


3) Don’t be an Oink – keep your rooms neat.  Hang up your clothes, pick up your boots, put away your make up and clean up your messes so your roommates don’t have to dodge it.  It’s YOUR job, not your Mom’s. Please be your own housekeeper…..or their maybe a pink elephant necklace and an aisle sweep in your future!  Many trainers don’t create private dressing rooms for their people.  One dressing room is shared by every single rider, and many of them get partly dressed at the hotel as well. They look simple, but they are very time consuming to put up and take down.  We wash all of the carpets, pack them up and haul them to every show.   By the time we put the wood up to frame the stalls out, and then do the ceilings (expensive plastic), carpet, electrical, and drapes on the walls it’s a huge undertaking.


4)  But mommmmmmm, it’s not fair!  I’ll continue to do the dressing room lottery to pick roommates to spread everyone around and try to make it even.   It’s all part of the horse show experience!  It’s eventful, unpredictable and some of the best lessons we learn are outside of the show arena.


5) There are generally no lessons on the Tuesdays after the show for Riders/horses who were at the shows!  It gives the horses and riders a much needed rest….and the trainer!  If you aren’t sure if you have a lesson, just ask!


6) Whatever you do, don’t ever do this!  Never ever in a million billion years come hang out in the groom aisle.   The hustle and bustle of our worker bees will stop and stare as you are escorted out with an armed guard!   There is so much going on back there, it really puts a hiccup in our system.  It distracts the horses and makes them dance while we are down on the ground painting feet or wrestling with one to cleans his ears.  Be respectful of your grooms and hang out in our wonderful lounge area!  Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!


7) If you have a problem, talk to Kelly. If you are happy, talk to Kelly too!


8) Poor sportsmanship will not be tolerated.  This goes for riders and relatives!  Be polite to all of the exhibitors, grooms, trainers, and your family. 



Centennial Practice Ride Schedule!

If you are wanting to take a quick spin on your show horse before the show starts practice rides will be once again the day before the show! It’s your job to text me for a time Wednesday April 8th afternoon/early evening, I’m already booking!!!!!!!


Never Take a Wooden Nickel, and Other Fine Tips!

While we were at convention giving our seminar, Kurt and I were asked about tipping of the horse show grooms.  What is the standard amount?  What a great question!  I decided to discuss it here with all of you.  Yes, tipping your grooms is not required, but definitely appreciated.  They work crazy long hours at shows, getting up around 4am – 11pm at night,  to make you and your horse your best.   They haul in heavy trunks, set it all up and pack it all up so you don’t have to!  Lunging, cleaning tack, shining silver, stall cleaning, feeding, watering, hand walking and taking care of our precious horses are all things they do for us.  They miss meals, eat pop tarts on the fly and down 5-hour energy drinks by the handful! The tips make them feel appreciated and important.  Many people also give them little treats during the week or cards at the end as well.  Generally the tips are given to me, and I divide them up and pass them out.  So what’s normal?  I’d say around $25/class is probably the basic amount, but probably 60%  tip more.  If you have a lot of silver to polish, or you know your horse requires a lot more lunging or work, your grooms did something even more extraordinary then their normal excellent selves…you might consider tipping more.


Are You Going?

I’ve been working on entries for both Chapter V and Big D!  Big D is going to require more then our normal $30/entry sponsorship to make it fly.  We promised we’d help.  Please let me know what you can contribute, as I will be bugging you soon!  I think I have a pretty good idea of who is going where, but just to clarify I’m going to list who I have confirmation from so you can let me know if I need to add or delete you:

 Confirmed for Big D:

Ely, Buzz, Stevie, Jesse, Rhett, Jack, Bruce, Johno, Andy, Zeke, Champ, Zoom, Boogie, Guy, Gaston, Maverick, Casey, Soldier, Earl, Chief, Bebe, Kazi, Opie (possibly Kaii, MJ)

Confirmed for Chapter V:

Paris, Reggie, Orion, Kit, Daisy B, Bling, (Possibly Kaii, MJ, Joli)


We Can’t all Be Naked!

I’m ordering more CCR logo apparel!!!  So far, I’ve had requests for long sleeve shirts, vests, ¾ zip stretchy sweatshirts, tank tops and more tee shirts!  I don’t have prices quite yet, but attached is an order form that is due back to me before April 12th!  I will need enough interest to place the order, so hop on it!  


Things You Didn’t Know About Kelly:

I was born in Torrance, California and grew up in the city until I was about 8 years old.  I had never ridden a horse until I got riding lessons for my Birthday when I turned 7 years old!  I was hooked!  Maybe I should make it a career???

You’re Probably Not Going To Win

I think it’s a good time to touch on sportsmanship.  It’s not only a great reminder for all of you, but for me as well.  Remembering how to be good winners and good losers, how to be good barn friends and be good friends to people from other barns as well. 

 When I was a rodeo queen, I used to give clinics all over country teaching girls how to compete and prepare for competitions.  One thing I always started my sportsmanship speeches out with was that when you go into your pageant, or in our case, the show arena, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO WIN.  It’s just plain old math and statistics, if there are 9 in your class, there is a 1:9 chance that you are actually going to win the class.  Those are not good odds, statistically; you are PROBABLY not going to win!  Obviously we do a lot of things to help increase our chances of winning through preparation, practice and educating ourselves.  Obviously we all want to win, our goal is to improve our skills and get consistently better and hopefully those higher ribbons will come with it.   But in all reality, when you go into the arena, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO WIN.   So go into the arena, doing your best, and don’t be offended if you do not come out with the blue ribbon.

 Nobody out there ever has a truly PERFECT ride.  The winner is not ever ever ever going to have a perfect ride, the loser is not going to have a perfect ride.  It’s never perfect, there is always going to be something that you can improve on.  It might just be a slight head bob in the corner, forgetting to shift your weight, something spooked your horse, losing focus at one time, but there is always something.  Whether you win or lose there is always something to be improved upon.   If you finish at the bottom of the class, or second, don’t come out of the arena saying, “The winner did this and this and this, how could they have won?”  You need to come out saying, “Sure, that horse won, but what can I do better?  How can I improve?”  Do I need to work on steadying my legs, better ring placement, keeping my horse collected, strengthening my body, setting my horse up better to canter?  Horses try really hard for us, but they are not people, they are not cars, things scare them and they are not as smart as we are.  They are kind creatures and do this for us but we have to help them get the correct answers and do the correct thing.  There’s a lot we can do to make their lives easier, and a lot we do that  makes it harder for them, but yes they mess up too.

 We need to remember why we show horses.   We show horses to enjoy our beautiful horses, and enjoy other people’s horses.  We get great time to spend with our families and other wonderful families and people with the same interests.  We build character, work ethic and self-esteem in our children and ourselves.  We challenge ourselves and are blessed to do so.  We get to spend time with friends, make new friends and support each other.  We help the new people as well as the people who have been around forever.   Being a special part of the large horse show family is really the meat in the horse show sandwich.  It’s just not the same to just ride around alone at home, it’s the camaraderie and friendships that make this what it is. 


Be thankful.  Be thankful that we get to do this.  It’s truly a blessing.    There are a lot of people who can’t do this.  Maybe they can’t afford it.  They may have physical limitations.  They may be too intimidated to do it.  They may not have the time or the support.  Make sure you are thanking your spouses, your parents and whoever makes it possible for you to chase your passion. You are truly blessed.  Those people could be doing what they enjoy, spending the time and money on hobbies they would rather do.  Your husbands and parents could be in Hawaii, or on a boat fishing, but they chose to spend it with you.   Normally, if it were their day off or they had extra money, they would not be at a horse show.  They’d be spending it how they want to spend it.  They do it for you.  That’s a huge sacrifice they are making for you.  Appreciate them for that, be sure and thank them, they truly do a lot for you.

 The same goes to your grooms, the horseshoers, the veterinarian and even your trainer!   They all invest a lot of time and love into this.  They all care.   They care about you, they care about your horses, and when something happens, like they pull a shoe, they get injured, it hurts everyone’s feelings.  They frequently check in when they know one has been hurt, or one of you has a sick family member.  We feel horribly for you, we feel horrible for the horse, just like they are each our very own.  Appreciate them and tell them thank you for the incredible job they do for you.  We tend to only talk to them when something is wrong, or you think there is an issue on your bill.  Remember that they put a lot of themselves into each one of your horses, and a small thank you here and there goes long ways.    They take it very personally.

 Horse showing is about improving and progressing. As you get better and better at riding, you start to see problems before they arise.  You are able to think ahead instead of merely reacting to the moment at hand.   You can look ahead and see a rider whose horse is picking up the wrong lead and know that they are probably going to stop and change it, so you’ll plan to give them extra space even before it happens.  That way you don’t suddenly look up and have a horse’s tush in your horse’s face!  You’ll see a baby stroller up ahead with a mom about to stand up and know that could spook your horse way before you get there, you’d plan to cut that corner.   So yes, you might not have won because your horse spooked….but a great rider would have seen that coming and avoided it!   It’s not just about fixing things as they come at you,  it’s about fixing things that haven’t even happened yet.  As you keep practicing, you’ll become more consistent and keep heading towards that perfect ride.   We can’t control judges.  They might love you and they might not like you at all.  They may like your horse’s style, and they may not like your horse’s style, we can’t control that, but we can keep working towards what we think is perfection, and over time, the ribbons will come with that.  When you become more consistent, you tend to place a little bit more consistent. 

 Our goal is improving and progressing.  It’s not just the blue ribbon.  Lord help us, sometimes we win when we really feel like we didn’t deserve it!  It may have been a ride we would have just assumed forgotten about and then we are shocked to be called out the winner!   Maybe everyone thought you should have been last except that judge….oh well, it happens!   As your trainer, I try to give you honest feed back on your classes.  Whether you won or didn’t, I will tell you how it looked from my perspective.  Sometimes you have a killer ride and may have placed lower then we expected.  Other times you come out with a great ribbon but didn’t ride as well as I know you can.    You can bet if I tell you I thought it was a great ride, that I truly think it was.  Especially since I’ll also let you know where we need to improve, even if you win the class!

 Although the judges are judging you against other teams your are really working to better yourself.   If you win the blue ribbon, but have a ride where you forget to shift your weight, let your horse get strung out, hang on your curb, run into another rider, do a “circle of death,” and other things that we have worked so hard to correct, it’s not really a check in the box of winning at your horsemanship.  While the blue ribbon is really nice….we really didn’t achieve our goal!  So winning wasn’t really a successful ride, because you kind of sucked.  But sometimes that happens!  Other times you had the ride of a lifetime and did everything we have been working so hard on, and everyone thought you should have won except that pesky judge….that’s still a win in the grand scheme of things!  You are on the right track!!  It all balances out.  Don’t be offended with a last place ribbon on a great ride…..but also don’t gloat when you win the class!  Next time, it could be reversed!  Sometimes, the other riders just happened to suck less than you that day.

 If our passion was truly just about winning, and only about that blue ribbon, we’d take our foofy and impeccably trained and turned out riders and horses to little tiny open horse shows!  It would be like taking our NBA basketball team and playing against the 5th graders in an elementary school P.E. class.  Sure, we’d likely win every single time, but it wouldn’t be fun, and that’s not why we do this.  We like good strong competition!  We like the feeling of really accomplishing something!  We need to compete against the best, to push ourselves to be better!  None of us are really all about just winning the blue ribbon. That’s not it at all.  The competition pushes us to improve and give us that rush of adrenaline we all love, and the satisfying feeling of topping a class of outstanding horses and riders.   It’s the competition, seeing the progression and enjoying our animals. 

 What I think is a nice horse, others might not like as much.  Same goes for you and other people’s horses (and kids, hehe)!   When people in other barns buy new horses, they might not be what I would pick, just like what I pick might not be what other trainer would pick.  Just like husbands.  One person’s perfect spouse, would not necessarily work for another.  Ever seen Wife Swap?!  Lol!  The same thing goes for judges.  They all like different looks, styles, movement and all hold qualities  at different values.

 When you do win, be gracious.  You might not even have won that class with a different judge judging.  Remember that and be thankful when things do come together and you are given that honor.  Say thank you and then say it again.  Be courteous to the other riders,  and if people congratulate you, say thank you, make eye contact and say it loudly enough that they hear your response.  Everyone loves to hate the winner.  Don’t get sucked into that spiral.   The better you and your horse become, and the more you win, the more people will try to find reasons to dethrone you.  It’s the human mind’s way of justifying their jealousy.   It’s truly human nature.  Be the first person to say hello, say thank you and congratulate them when they deserve it.  The more you win and the better you do, the more people will try to pick you apart and sink your ship.  This doesn’t just include people from our barn.  This includes people from other barns as well.  We need to be nice, helpful and courteous to everyone.  We are all in the same industry, enjoying the same horses, doing the same types of competition and we are all in this together.  Support each other.  Whether people ride here at my barn, or any one else’s barn, we are  all the same people doing the same thing for the same reasons.

  Just like being a good winner (which is MUCH more fun to do then being a good loser) being a good loser is also very important.  It’s hard to do, I know.  The good news is that you can get better at it as you practice.  Start with congratulating the winner!  Maybe they got a wrong lead or their hands are not as solid as yours, don’t dwell on what they did wrong, and don’t be angry at them!  It’s not their fault the judge saw them as the winner that day!   You might think they didn’t deserve it, oh well,  the judge thought they did, so they won!  Congratulate them!  Someday they’ll have a great class and get last too, it happens to everyone. 

 Don’t be a brat.  Whether you are a kid, parent or amateur rider, don’t be a brat and don’t let others be brats either. If you don’t win, don’t have a fit, don’t throw yourself on the floor kicking and screaming. Don’t have tantrum because you didn’t get the blue ribbon!  As I stated at the beginning, you’re probably not going to win!   Not winning happens; we should be thinking about what we could do better in our next class.  If you know your horse is going to be scared of the signs or the video cameras, in your classes you need to be thinking, “I‘ve got to remember to keep my horse away from that video camera or that wall!”  You have to fix your own personal things, don’t waste energy and create a bad attitude and habit of tearing down the winner. Think about yourself, “What do I need to do to be better, so that can be me next time?  Do I need to work on keeping my heels down further for equitation, do I need to remember to keep my hands steadier? What are things I do to fix me.?”  If you’re just thinking about the winner, what they are doing wrong, or what you don’t like about their horse or their style of riding, you are seriously hindering yourself.  Your progression as a rider is going to slow while others continue to improve, that will make you more critical of others, which will further  hinder your self improvement, and you’ll find you’re self trapped in a never ending cycle of bitterness.  The horse shows are more than just competitions.  They are about how to work hard,  how to be a good winner and to be a good loser.   They build strong character and teach us to acknowledge our short comings and work toward strengthening them, all while doing our best to highlight all of our unique strengths!  GAME: *<Be the 1st or 5th person to say the code words, “I make Kelly Proud,” to Kelly and receive a FREE lesson Coupon!>*

 Good sportsmanship is something that is learned, kids are not born being good sports. Even when my sister and I were kids, we had to learn how to graciously win and lose.  Kids are not born with the ability to share with others, they don’t understand that they aren’t gong to win every time and how to look at it.  My parents also had to deal with the same things that I know all of you have to deal with your children showing.  I’m not biased or anything, (hehe) but I feel like they did a really great job when we were showing.  My mom always told us that if we were not good sports, we would be taken home from the show right then!  And we were.  We knew she was serious and it only took once. Over time we learned how to lose, and eventually we learned how win.   Sportsmanship is something you have to teach your kids.  For parents, I know you feel bad for your kids when they don’t win.  You know how hard your kids work.  You know all of their best qualities, and it always seems to you that their weaknesses are so much less of a big deal then those of the other kids they are competing against.   When they don’t win, their feelings will be hurt that they didn’t win the class, and as parents we feel their pain as well.   It’s the nature of the game.  Being a good example and teaching them to deal with those feelings, to think about how to have a better next class, and what to work on at home instead of redirecting these feelings towards the winner is key.   I feel like my job with my daughter, Emmy,  (I’m sure you feel the same way) is to teach our children to grow up to be good human beings.   If your kid is having a hard time not acting out on their disappointment to not winning the class, it’s my suggestion that you use enforceable consequences.   Although it would be a pretty harsh first offense consequence to take them home from the whole show, we sure as heck can keep them out of their next class!  As the owner of this barn, if I ever see it or I saw anybody exhibiting really bad sportsmanship from my barn you would not be going in your next class!  I think sportsmanship is super important.  Being kind to each other is the foundation of my barn.  I will not tolerate anything less.  To me, a lifelong lesson of learning to be a good sport is much more important than who won a class at a horse show.  It’s my suggestion to my parents that if your child is having a pity party or not acting appropriately, to just tell them if they continue,  they won’t be showing in their next class.  If they are unable to straighten up, then they need to sit out the next class and realize what a privilege it is to get to show.   It’s a privilege (and fun) to show whether they won the class or that they just got the opportunity to go into the show ring!   Showing is a reward and privilege in itself!   I don’t think it should be a right for them to show if they cannot handle themselves.   We need to teach our young people to be good human beings.    To appreciate the opportunity to show.  To be kind to others and focus on pulling themselves up, not cut others down.  

 I feel our barn is really great.  I think our people are good!  I know- I know- we can’t help but feel a little disappointed when we don’t win that class we thought we had.  As hard as we try not to, we all act in ways that we are embarrassed about later.  We do need to think about it and keep a handle on it.  Everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses. One of our riders might be a rock star pattern girl, but she has looser legs and she has to focus on keeping her hands still.   Another rider has to work really hard on her patterns but she is solid and tight on the rail! Everybody has something they are working on and they have something that is just a god given talent that may come easy for them.  It’s that way for the horses as well.  Some naturally lope great, some need help.  Some are nervous, others are lazy.  It’s never just an easy and sure thing, we all have to work hard, we all have things that we’re great at, and then we all have those less-then-great qualities. We try to highlight those strengths, and then for those things that may still be a work in progress, we will try really hard to overcome them and down play them while we’re showing.

 It’s pretty rewarding to see your hard work pay off at a horse show!  Putting together a great ride in big class of great horses and riders and then having the judge reward you with that blue ribbon is truly icing on the cake!  There is so much more to showing then just those blue ribbons!  Appreciate those who make it possible for you. Be a good winner and a good loser.  Support your barn friends and make new friends.  Work hard to improve your skills. Teach yourselves and your children to be better humans, and enjoy your wonderful horses….even if you are PROBABLY NOT GOING TO WIN!


I’m so proud of each and every one of you and how far you have all come!  See you soon!



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