Living out her dreams and riding the win

Leslie Silverman
As a child, Christy Hawthorne was a horse- obsessed girl. Her parents were not horse people, but she “finally wore them down when she was nine or 10,” getting her first horse, she said.
Hawthorne began to dream big about where that would take her.
“I saw the globe trophy in a magazine when I was a little girl and read about the Quarter Horse World Show  and thought, ‘Someday I wanna show at that show,’” she said.
Hawthorne had years of owning a horse, and not owning a horse. In the spring of this year, she was convinced by a friend to do a horse show in Denver.
Then, this fall she had the opportunity to enter the same show she had dreamt about as a young girl, the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, a three  week long show.
For the Quarter Horse world, this is the big show.
“I didn’t even care how I placed,” Hawthorne recounted. “When I had the opportunity to go, that was my win.”
She said she did a lot of preparation prior to the show, estimating she spent  about one hour a day working with her 12-year-old mare named Bug, short for Love Bug. 
The pair trained four to five days a week for several months. She could look at last year’s riders to get a sense of what levels each were showing at.
“I figured we could go and not embarrass ourselves,” she said. 
Hawthorne explained dressage is all about having harmony with the horse. For her, that means working with the horse and not against the horse.
“It’s about having a feel for your horse and being able to communicate very seamlessly with them,” she said. 
Hawthorne also explained the importance of having harmony with a horse. “You can steer them with your body, your legs, your hands, your seat. You’re not having to jerk on them. You’re not having to make them uncomfortable with what you’re asking them to do. It flows well,” Hawthorne said.
Regardless of all her training, though, in order for her to do well at the world championships, her mare had to cooperate. 
“My mare got a sense of ‘Hey, we’re at the Big Show, I belong here.’”
And belong they did.
Hawthorne and Bug were able to compete in two dressage levels at the world show. They received a reserve world championship in one level and a top ten placing in the other dressage level.
This was her first show of this caliber and Hawthorne said the experience put her on “top of the world. To be able to show well, and do well and bring a reserve world championship home,  I’m still floating.”
The show was also an opportunity for Hawthorne to be amongst some of her biggest heroes, including Lynn Palm, who watched her ride.
“She wished me a good ride,” Hawthorne  said with excitement. “The experience was so cool, not to observe through the page, but to be there in person and participate.”
Self-taught, Hawthorne learned a lot from mentors, close friends, reading articles and  trial and error. She credits some of  her success to a close friend who gave her really good show tips as well as her only-good horsemanship. Hawthorne also expressed gratitude to her family who supported her “1000 percent” despite not being “bitten by the horse bug” the way she has been, she said.
There are five levels of Western dressage total, and Hawthrone’s goal next year is to move up a level or two. She also wants to continue  to stay in this space when both she and her horse are having fun.
“If it’s not fun, why do it? I’m just having so much fun with my horses right now,” she said.

User login