By Stephen Knoll
Competitions of any sort are grueling on the contestants, throw in trying to control a horse and it becomes that much more difficult.
Jacklyn Estreen and Ashley Gorski are both gearing up for their third time competing at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison.
The event, held at the Alliant Expo Center, takes course over three days and boasts hundreds of competitors, exhibitors and thousands of spectators.
Gorski and Estreen are not fazed by the lights and the crowds anymore though with both being seasoned veterans of the stage.
“My mom showed horses when she was younger, so she got me into it,” Gorski said.
Estreen started back in 4-H with gymkhana, speed racing, events and moved on to showing horses from there.
For both girls the exciting part about showing horses isn’t the awards or accolades, instead they love the progress that they make with each horse.
Months and years are spent between rider and their horse to build what’s essentially a working relationship between them.
The effort can be easily seen just watching Gorski and Estreen lead their horses into the pasture for some photos.
Knowing that it was their work that made the horse into what it is, that’s the ultimate prize for these trainers.
“I was scared because they were so ginormous and I was so small, but I was quickly hopping on any horse I could see,” Gorski said describing her first experience with horses at age 10.
Estreen started a bit younger, she said having grown up around horses since she was about two and riding them when she was four
The bigger concern for the two was when they first went out to show their horses.
“I knew I had been progressing, but I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to do well at a show,” Estreen said.
With all the different events and aspects to training getting a horse show ready adds up for any trainer, but it all pays off in the end.
“Last year when we went to the Midwest Horse Fair last year there was a huge crowd of people that came up to us to say ‘you guys did awesome,’” Gorski said.
It won’t be the same horse and pony show in their third go around though as Estreen is working with a relatively new horse in the stable.
“I got her in July, so I’ve had less than a year of work with her,” Estreen said.
The short schedule hasn’t lessened any excitement for the pair as Gorski and Estreen are ready to hit the big stage once again.
It’s easier to handle the nerves with a friend by their side, the tension is eased even in places like the Midwest Horse Fair where the two are competing in events they don’t normally do.
“With pretty much anything, it’s so much nicer to have someone with you who can help you out,” Gorski said.
“You each have knowledge of different things so putting it together makes it easier,” Estreen added.
Both are excited to get the chance to show off their new skills and new horses in one of the biggest stages for them.
The Midwest Horse Fair takes place April 20 – 22 at Madison’s Alliant Expo Center.
Ashley Gorski left, and Jacklyn Estreen sit atop their horses as they prepare for the Midwest Horse Show. – Photo by Stephen Knoll
By Stephen Knoll