Celebrating Individuality

It’s official, my house hunt is over. I’ve sold my house and moved into a different one that is nearly 30 miles closer to the Quarter Horse News offices. Granted, I’m still living out of boxes at the moment, but what’s important is that it’s over, and for that, I am grateful.

Selling and buying a house can teach you a lot about life, if you let it. No matter which side of the transaction you are on, one of the first things you realize is that, for the most part, we are all after the same thing. Buyers all want a clean, updated house in a safe neighborhood at a great price. Sellers all want the most money for doing the least amount of additional work.

As a seller, I made a point to accept every showing appointment, no matter how inconvenient. I’d clean my house, then clean it again. The dogs and I would hop in the car and drive around for as long as the potential buyers wanted to look. The sheer volume of showings I had in two months attested to the fact that my house fit the criteria – good price, great neighborhood – for many people.

As a buyer, there were many times I would walk into a house, look at my real estate agent and say, “I know why this one is still on the market!” While the advertising and price many have enticed us to look in the first place, the reality that faced us through the front door fell far short of our – and other potential buyers’ – expectations and goals.

One buyer may want a house in the city while another wants one in the country, but they both still want a clean, updated house in a safe neighborhood at a great price. It’s kind of like the horse industry. One horseman may prefer cutting while another likes reining, but they both basically want the same thing – a healthy, talented horse to take to the shows and be competitive.

It’s no secret that, because of the similarities amongst horsemen in any discipline, I believe there are many things we can learn from each other by cooperating and getting along. I will be the first to speak up and promote synergy between the various breed and event associations. We all do what we do because we love the horse, and that unites us like nothing else.

However, as much as I believe in the power of our similarities to strengthen us, there also comes a time when we must celebrate our differences. Because even the happy home buyer who finds the perfect house in the best neighborhood at a great price is probably going to want to change the paint color on a couple of walls. (I know I am!)

For example, many people know I spent years in the Quarter Horse racing industry. There are several things the racing industry does that I believe could benefit the performance horse industry. But there are also many things that make the Western performance industry unique, and it’s not always feasible to compare racehorses to performance horses.

Take a closer look and you’ll find some amazing similarities between the Western performance disciplines. But, there are also some important differences that make each unique. Reined cow horse riders need their horses to be able to think for themselves in the heat of the moment going down the fence, while reiners prefer a horse that thrives on clear and consistent direction. For cutters, it’s all about the cow, while those who compete with cow horses embrace their multifaceted sport.

Several times a year, Quarter Horse News and Equi-Stat celebrate the individuality of the three major disciplines we cover – cutting, reining and reined cow horse – with statistical issues. We recap the prior year’s leaders with an Equi-Stat annual statistics issue, then take a look at the all-time leaders with an Equi-Stat lifetime statistics issue. The issue you are holding right now contains the Equi-Stat Lifetime Reining Statistics.

I’m a baseball fan, so liking stats is almost a requirement. But as much as I like statistics, I like the stories surrounding the statistics even more. The statistics paint a picture of similarities – horses with the athletic ability and trainability to excel, and people with the foresight, drive, ambition, knoweldge and talent to succeed. But it’s the stories that celebrate their differences. Stories like that of Jordan Larson, which begins on page 160, or Martin and Kim Muehlstaetter, on page 164. They all took different paths to the top, yet they share the same accomplishment of leaving their mark as a permanent legacy in the reining horse industry.

Also in this issue, Quarter Horse News Features Editor Kelsey Pecsek chatted with National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity Open Champion Nick Dowers about his journey to the top. He now shares the title of Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion with 27 other people, but his individuality shines through. If you want to read one of the best feel-good stories of the year, turn to page 110.

Last night, I made one last trip to my old house to drop off keys and a garage door opener to the new owner. I enjoyed living there, and, having met the new owner a few times over the past few weeks, I know enough about her to know that she will, too. And yet, as we said our goodbyes, she started talking about new paint colors for the walls. No matter how alike we are, sometimes it’s the differences we need to celebrate. Come to think of it, I think I’ll stop and pick up some paint samples on my way home.