Winner’s Circle

Horse trainer and judge Shawn Terry of Randolph, NY

Horse trainer and judge Shawn Terry of Randolph, NY travels to clients’ homes and works with them and their horses, as well as coaches students during horse shows. Shawn is pictured above with her students. Photo courtesy Shawn Terry

Horse Showing: The Show Ring Gates are Wide Open and Waiting for You!

If you have a dream of trotting through the winner’s circle, why not make that dream come true? For many equestrians abound, showing horses is their primary drive behind riding. Most begin showing at a young age, while others pick showing up as a hobby later in life.

You’re right in the heart of horse show country if you’re in Cattaraugus and McKean Counties, so take advantage of this wonderful benefit.

“The advice I give to anyone who is thinking about joining the horse show world is to attend a few open shows in your area. Spend the day watching the show, take it all in and don’t be afraid to ask questions. As we all know, horse people love to talk about their horses and what they do with them!” said Shawn Terry, trainer and judge from Randolph, NY.

Need some options? The Cattaraugus County fairgrounds have horse shows often and beautiful facilities and stables to boot. Their bleacher seating arrangements, picnic tables and tasty food booth make this a very welcoming spot for new horse show spectators.

Travel just a bit further to hit the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, NY. Both Cattaraugus and Erie County fairgrounds offer 4-H shows, open horse shows, gaming shows and impressive breed shows. In addition, the fairgrounds in McKean County are home to several local 4-H events and an open horse show series that runs throughout the summer.

If your interest in showing continues after being a spectator, you have several options. Most professionals and seasoned equestrians recommend finding a local stable that offers riding lessons to further your skills and broaden your preparation for the show world. It is crucial that you and your horse are confident together and up to show ring standards.

Whether you own a horse or not, some stables offer both boarding and lessons for you and your horse. D&A Performance Horses of Franklinville, NY is an impressive and inviting local option - and also the home of the successful Battle on the Hill open horse show series. Contact them at 716-462-3398, email or find them on Facebook under D&A Performance Horses.

If you have your own horse, hiring a traveling instructor may be of interest to you. “I travel to my clients’ homes, work with them and their horses and coach them during the day at shows,” said Shawn. This is a fantastic and helpful option. If you feel that this may work for you, contact Shawn at 716-720-1718.

If under the age of 18, joining your local 4-H club is always a very trusted, grassroots option. You can learn a ton about horses and it is a great way to get the foundation for a wonderful career on horseback at a young age. Contact the Cattaraugus County 4-H Extension Office at 716-699-2377, or the McKean County Extension Office at 814-887-5613.

“My parents took me to a local horse show when I was 7-years-old to watch for the day. I rode at home, joined 4-H, started taking lessons and went to my first show at the age of 8 … I was instantly hooked. Every year, we added a few more shows, until finally, I had worked my way up and was ready for a breed show. I showed at my first American Quarter Horse Association show when I was 12 and I just kept going from there,” said Shawn.

If Shawn’s story isn’t enough for you, read on to hear the individual stories from a handful of girls from both Cattaraugus and McKean Counties. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s never too late in life to pursue your dream of showing horses. The show ring gates are wide open and waiting to welcome you, and so is your new horse show family.

Local Testimonials

Courtney Warner, Franklinville, NY

“When I was 9, I started taking lessons at a local stable. After a while, I attended my first horse show and absolutely fell in love with the atmosphere – the early mornings, the smell of Show Sheen and Pepi in the air and the feeling you get when your name is called for a ribbon. I gave up the typical life of most teenagers, such as sleepovers, sports and school clubs, but looking back, I don’t have a single regret.”

Courtney has been in the saddle for 15 years. She has shown at American Quarter Horse Congress, is a student of Shawn Terry and a 4-H alumnus.

Darcy Fisher, Rocky Ridge Arabians, Kane, Pa.

“Showing has changed my life and I’ll carry that with me forever. Horses have allowed me to be determined, hard working and taught me how to appreciate dedication and love towards an animal. I will cherish every memory I have and my love continues to grow.”

Darcy has been in the saddle for 13 years. She continues to ride for Rocky Ridge Arabians. She is a member of her college equestrian team and a 4-H alumnus.

Katie Abbott, Triple K Quarter Horses, Limestone, NY

“I got involved in riding horses in my early twenties. I found that trail riding was a huge stress reliever, and it eventually evolved into showing when I started wanting to try more disciplines in the equestrian world. Riding has changed my entire outlook on life. It has become who I am as a person and I would be lost without it. Showing horses isn’t just about winning the ribbon to me; I look forward more so to spending time with great people, doing what I love and seeing all your hard work pay off in the show ring!”

Katie has 13 years in the saddle.

Jackie Depto, Ludlow, Pa.

“I always dreamed of having a horse, and I went for it. Of course, having a supportive parent was crucial. I got my first horse at the age of 10, and never took a riding lesson until college, when I joined the equestrian team and learned hunter/jumper. I’ve trained a few horses for other people, including a mustang in Colorado, a rescued Thoroughbred and a horse that was deemed ‘unrideable’ by another trainer. I attended a Josh Lyons clinic a few years back and worked as a trail guide and youth camp counselor at the Flying W Ranch for a summer. This summer, I’ve been giving lessons for the first time using my own horses. Horses truly are the best thing that have ever happened to me, and my biggest reason for looking forward in life.”

Jackie has been riding for 16 years. In addition to the above, she is also a 4-H alumnus.

By Mary Heyl

Give back to Allegany State Park during the Nation's largest one-day event. Read more

By Daniella Griesbaum

Allegheny National Forest recognized as the #2 camping destination in the United States. Read more

By Spencer Timkey

ERA Team VP Real Estate takes charge in the fight against ALS with "Agents of Hope" golf tournament. Read more

By Spencer Timkey

With help from the Tony Hawk Foundation, Ellicottville begins effort to build a skatepark. Read more

A photo from a past PaddleFest at Spruce Lake
By Spencer Timkey

Adventure Bound onthefly’s 4th annual Paddle Festival returns to Spruce Lake June 22nd & 23rd. Read more

By Spencer Timkey

After years of intensive planning, exceptional dedication and community support, the Ellicottville Great Valley Trail looks to begin building Read more

By Spencer Timkey

A new event center, exceptional junior programs and some of the best scenery in the county makes Cardinal Hills a WNY golf gem. Read more

By Spencer Timkey

One of the most prominent charitable golf outings in the area returns to The Pennhills Club on Saturday, June 1st. The Zippo Open: Sarah Dorn Blaisdell Memorial raises money for the McKean County SPCA, combining a rich history with generous donations and sponsorships. Started in 1963, the memorial continues to prove successful in the Bradford golf circuit. Read more

By Spencer Timkey

Dan Cass likes to golf. The local entrepreneur and former restaurant owner, realizing the Arcade area was in need of a country club, saw opportunity when Turkey Run went up for sale in 2015. Combining the two things he loved - golf and small business - made the purchase one he doesn’t regret. Now, with a reinvigorated attitude and a brand-new clubhouse, Turkey Run has become a staple in the local golf and restaurant scene. Read more

By Cattaraugus County Tourism

Time to hit the water ... where to go? Read more