Congress attendees explain what makes this show so unique
October 30th, 2016Tweet
By Corrine Borton - InStride Edition
As the 50th All American Quarter Horse Congress draws to an end, we asked several people who attended this year to explain what makes this horse show so unique.
Kathy Bawel, Jasper, Indiana, has attended the Congress eight times.
“This show is special because in our discipline, Pole Bending, the best of the best is here. So everyone here is striving for 19 second pole runs and it is quite an accomplishment to get in the top 10 here. It is bigger than the World Show, so this is it for us.”
Darcy McCoy, Lebanon, Ohio, has worked for Shane Rux Photography at the Congress the past four years.
“It is so unique because it’s the biggest single breed giant, long show that you just basically live at for a month.”
Barbara Aitken, Delaware, Ohio, works in the Congress Press Room.
“Fifty years ago, Congress set out to accomplish three things. They wanted a nice horse show, an educational opportunity, and social events like the trade show. For 50 years, they have kept that running and have stayed true to their goals in 1967. It has become the standard.”
Jenna Dempze, Purcell, Oklahoma, is an exhibitor who has been attending the Congress for at least 15 years.
“It is really big. You see people from all over that you don’t see the rest of the year. Everyone brings their A game. It is long, the hours are not ideal, and the weather is usually crappy, but it makes you just push yourself really hard, and when you win a prize, it is all so worth it.”
Kaitlin LeBlanc, Somerville, Tennessee, is an assistant trainer at Masterson Farms. She has been attending the Congress for five years.
“The longevity of this show makes it unique. You are gone for like a whole month and you practically move into the barn. You don’t get a lot of sleep and you don’t really see anything except for the fairgrounds. You almost forget the outside world exists. I guess it is just kind of it’s own little world compared to everything else.”
Dr. Josh Blyden is a veterinarian with Game Time, Saginaw Valley Equine Clinic, official veterinarian of the Congress. He is attending for the fifth year.
“There isn’t another horse show like it. Congress keeps on going and going. There are so many horses in one location. You can’t top the prestige of winning a Congress championship.”
Sammi Langianese, Bradford, Pennsylvania, is a photographer who works for Shane Rux Photography at the Congress.
“The size in general makes the, Congress so unique. Usually other shows are not this big, or if they are this big they are condensed into a smaller time frame. This one you just have people coming from all over for a whole month.”
Liz Rice, Grimes, Iowa, is an exhibitor who has attended the Congress six times.
“I think what makes this show so different is that people come from all over, there are all types of competition and it is really tough. You never know what is going to happen at this show, even with a good ride. The competition is just crazy to watch. Even if you don’t do well yourself, it is an honor to be in the ring with all of the big time horses. If you get the chance to do well then it is awesome.”
Michelle Hager, Cedar Falls, Iowa, is the owner of Tack Room Inc., a Congress vendor who is attending for her 14th year.
“As a retailer you have to be on your toes. You have to come out with new product. This is kind of an introduction show to what you have new and different in order to attract buyers and keep them as customers. It is kind of our little debut before the new year.”
Mallory Walker, Chardon, Ohio, is a Hunter Under Saddle and All-Around competitor, attending the Congress for her fourth time.
“There are all different types of people here at Congress. We try to go to diverse shows all year around, and here there are just so many people, so it isn’t same crowd that you see at every show. That is cool to me.”
Pasley Puthoff, Purcell, Oklahoma, is an assistant trainer at CAC Show Horses. She has attended every Congress since she was born.
“There is no other show that has this atmosphere, number of people, and to me, prestige. It is a big deal. Everyone works toward this horse show and it is a lot of fun.”
Contess Lynch Sutton, Westbranch, Iowa, is an exhibitor who has attended every Congress since 1996.
“It is the whole experience. The horses are top notch and anybody who is anybody is going to be here.”
Judd Paul, New Albany, Ohio, is a professional trainer and judge who has been attending the Congress for 20 years.
“It is the greatest show on earth.”
Bryant Preston, Roberta, Georgia, is a horse trainer who has been attending the Congress for 10 years.
“What makes it unique for me is I come here and I get to see all of my friends that I don’t get to see very much and we all meet up and just try to get something accomplished. For me, that is a big deal.”
Jennifer Leckey, Richmond, Indiana, is a professional trainer and judge. She has been attending the Congress for 30 years.
“It is the largest breed show in the world and it is very prestigious to win.”
Chuck Cherry, Purcell, Oklahoma, is an assistant trainer at Gil Galyean Quarter Horses. This is his second Congress.
“The number of hours that go into this show is what makes it unique. The night riding schedule and all of that makes it different than any other show we attend.”
Katy Hankins, Glen Burnie, Maryland, is a spectator and has been attending the Congress for 31 years.
“If this is what you want to see, this is where you need to come.”
Derrick Huggins, an Oklahoma resident, is an employee at the sweet Shop, a Congress food vendor, and has been attending the Congress for five years.
“There is such a variety of people here. The late hours and the early competition make it intense. The dedication that each trainer takes to win is really cool.”
Barb Hagen, Stockton, Iowa, is a spectator attending the Congress for the first time this year.
“I feel like I am in a mall right now, but there are horses and people with spurs walking through here with dogs running loose. It is amazing. This is my first time here and it is very impressive.”
Robin Story, works in the Congress shavings office and has been attending the Congress for 21 years.
“Congress is different because of the size and all of the different personalities that you meet.”
Mary Jo Gold, Springfield, Missouri, is an exhibitor who is competing at the Congress for the fourth time.
“The energy of this show is different from other shows. There are so many horses and the people are so devoted and dedicated. We are in our own little bubble here. If you are here and you want it, it doesn’t matter what time you have to get up to get in the pen, it doesn’t matter what you have to do for that animal, you are going to make the effort and the sacrifice. Everyone here is on the same page with that. It is the spirit that is here and it is awesome.”
Hailey Boisvert, Hadley, Massachusetts, is a youth competitor who is attending the Congress for the second year as a spectator.
“I keep coming back because I hope one day to show here, so I like to get the experience of the environment and to see what it is like to show here. All of the different stores are awesome and there are great people all around.”
Anne Kelley, Hadley, Massachusetts, is a spectator attending the Congress for the sixth time.
“Quarter Horses are country wide and you get to come to the Congress and see all of your friend from across the states, which is wonderful. I love competition and it is just a blast.”
Danny Desmond, is a trainer from Georgetown, Ontario. He now works in New Jersey and has been attending the Congress for five years.
“Everyone in North America with a Quarter Horse comes here to show. It means a lot to compete here because you get to compete against everyone that is the best. The difference is, when you compete in your same region all of the time, you are constantly showing against the same horses. When you come here it is like the World Series of horse shows.”
Levi Richards, Bowling Green, Ohio, works for Tribute Equine Nutrition, a Congress vendor and is attending for the sixth year.
“What I always say about Congress compared to other events here in Ohio is you get a higher end group of horse people here. You get people who are truly involved and professional in the industry.”
Emma Koprowski, Tucson, Arizona, works at Winning Couture, a Congress vendor, and is attending the Congress for the first time.
“There is so much diversity in people, horses, clothes and shopping at Congress.”
Patty Logan, Kechi, Kansas, is the owner of Logan Western Supply, a Congress vendor. She has been attending the Congress for 16 years.
“It is the largest AQHA show in America, so it brings the hype on and makes people want to come. It is just a great show and they run it well. People really enjoy themselves because there is so much to see and do.”
Mary Beth Hopkins, Box Springs, Georgia, works at Heritage Equine Equipment. She has been attending the Congress for three years.
“There are so many classes and so many opportunities to get to see other horses and riders and you get to do all types of shopping.”
Deanna Green, Pilot Point, Texas, is a youth exhibitor attending the Congress for the 10th time.
“I think Congress is a special show because you come here and show with people that you haven’t shown with all year long. Everyone is here from all over the country and it is a huge production with a lot going on. It is also really cool to see how everyone goes all out for their set-ups.”
Brooke Granzow, Van Meter, Iowa, is a youth exhibitor who has competed at the Congress several times.
“It is a unique show that anyone has the opportunity to win if you have been working hard. For instance, today a young girl from Washington won the Novice Trail and it was her first time ever showing out of state.”
Sydney Riden, Good Hope, Illinois, is a youth competitor at the Congress.
“The atmosphere at the congress is unique compared to other shows because the classes are huge, you have to get up and ride in the middle of the night to practice, and the number of spectators is unlike any other show.”
Samantha Eckert, Brenham, Texas, is an assistant designer at Winning Couture, a Congress vendor. She has been attending the Congress for 16 years.
“The number of exhibitors the show draws in and being able to compete against so many people at one time make the Congress unique. Whether it is being a rider or a trade show vendor, everyone is here to compete shop and socialize.”
Melissa Hendrix, Virginia Beach, Virginia, is an exhibitor attending her fourth Congress.
“Where else are you going to go where you can sit here and watch Hunters, Barrel Racers, Reiners, Cutters, and Pleasure horses? The diversity of the Congress, the size of it, the vendors, the show grounds and the down to earth people in AQHA that you really don’t find in other organizations makes this show unique.”
Debbie McLelland, Lake Worth, Florida, owns McLelland’s Saddlery, a Congress vendor and has been attending the show for 40 years.
“There is such a variety of people that come to Congress. They come from all different lifestyles and variety in what horses they like. It just brings a unique atmosphere.”
Alexa McWilliams, Walton, Kansas, is an exhibitor attending the Congress for the eighth time.
“The atmosphere and the title. Everything that goes with this show makes it unique.”
Sara Fransen, Alpha, Minnesota, is an exhibitor. Her first Congress was 35 years ago.
“It is comparable to, if you are a golf fan, attending the US Open, because everybody has a chance to participate. It isn’t like you have to qualify or have certain credentials. There is a class for everybody.”
Phyllis Miller, Fort Wayne, Indiana, owns Pizza Diva, a Congress food vendor and has been attending the Congress for three years.
“This is the one place where everyone comes together.”
Carly Epp, Ontario, Canada, is an exhibitor who has been attending the Congress for six years.
“There are so many different levels and different types of riding. We have Barrel Racing over here and then we have Western Riding over there. There is Jumping, there is everything. Also, everyone is from all over the place. It is so diverse and there is always something going on.”
Betty Flarida (pictured center on front page), Springfield, Ohio, previously served as a Youth Advisor and now serves in Information Services at the Congress. She has been attending for 35 years.
“There is everything here. It is large, and all of the disciplines come to show. It just keeps growing. Of course, the people are great as well.”
Dr. Kate Workman, Aberdeen, North Carolina, works for Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine, and is attending the Congress for the first time this year.
“We go pretty much 24 hours a day for the entire length of the show and our work load is probably doubled or tripled compared to a normal, busy show.”
Kaleigh Gasperi, Good Hope, Pennsylvania, is an assistant trainer at Duit Performance Horses in Good Hope, Illinois, who has attended the Congress 17 times.
“The Congress is unique because – It’s the All American, baby!”