By Stephen Knoll
Practice is one thing, but under the bright lights of the big stage is when the competition gets serious.
Ashley Gorski and Jacklyn Estreen, both from Shiocton, hit the big city of Madison for the Midwest Horse Show at the Alliant Expo Center.
Hundreds of fellow exhibitors and competitors along with thousands of fans from across the world poured into the state’s capital to watch the competitions take place.
With all those eyes on them the nerves were certainly present for the Shiocton pair, but this was familiar territory for them.
This year’s competition was going to be the last one the pair could do as a team so as Gorski put it, “We wanted to go out with a bang.”
The theme for this year was ‘university’ so a lot of the events were based around that concept, for example in one event Estreen had to race up and down a track to mail an application letter.
They also competed in a rope race together, holding a length of rope between them as they raced and if they let go of the rope they would be disqualified.
All the events took place over the course of the weekend with some qualifying heats before the final event.
Last year Gorski and Estreen took sixth place overall so when it came time to hear the final results they expected similar results.
“When it got past sixth we were like ‘Oh we did better than last year,’ then they kept going and going,” Estreen said.
The announcer then reached the top three and the two were almost immediately overcome with emotion.
At the end of all the names, the two took first place overall at the Midwest Horse Fair.
“I heard second place called and I looked over to (Estreen) and started crying,” Gorski said.
“We both started crying and hugged for the longest time,” Estreen said.
The journey to first place wasn’t easy for either of them, Estreen was working with a brand new horse who took a bit of extra care to get ready.
Now that the journey is completed the two are left feeling a little conflicted about their final year.
“It’s kind of sad, I mean I don’t want it to end,” Estreen said.
It isn’t completely over for either of them though as the two are searching for different avenues to continue showing horses and competing.
Gorski and Estreen will be showing at 4-H as well while they explore different options available for them.
Family and friends of “The Unstoppables” came to cheer Ashley and Jacklyn on at the Midwest Horse Fair on April 20-22. Ashley Gorski, on the left horse and Jacklyn Estreen on the right. – Submitted photo
By Stephen Knoll