angle-left Leasing and Learning

Leasing and Learning

Emily Shaw dips a toe in at the AQHA West Level 1 Championship.

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By The American Quarter Horse Journal editor Andrea Caudill

Exiting their ranch riding award ceremony, young horsewoman Emily Shaw gives her leased horse, Smart Tom Tucker, a big pat. After all, he deserved it – the 22-year-old schoolmaster had carried her to awards in the rookie youth and level 1 classes at the AQHA West Level 1 Championship on the first day of the five-day event.

“I was really happy,” she says of her runs. “He was really listening to me, he came back to me really well. There were a few things we could improve on, but that’s with every single run. I was overall very happy with how he was listening.”

“Thomas” is owned by Emily’s trainer, Cindy Forrest, and was an National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity finalist in his 3-year-old year and is an NRCHA Supreme Cow Horse. He is an own son of Smart Little Lena and out of the Doc Tom Tucker mare Disco Tucker; he was bred by James Eakin of Hondo, Texas. 

Thomas is currently employed teaching Emily, who with her family resides in Laguna Hills, California, and has been riding for just over eight years. Horses were a passion she picked up essentially on her own.

“The horse gene in my family skipped three generations,” she says. “As a kid, I just always loved horses. And one day I said I wanted to ride. So I started taking lessons.” 

Emily has tried lessons in a few different saddle styles, including jumping and dressage, but found her place with reining and ranch riding. 

“My favorite classes is reining, probably, I find that the most fun,” Emily says. “And then ranch riding – especially on Thomas. He’s taken me a lot of places and taught me a lot of things.”

This is only her second AQHA show. She has previously done schooling shows, and worked as a helper at shows to gain experience. 

“I was very nervous (to come),” Emily says. “It’s been a very interesting experience. I’ve learned a lot even in two days of being here. How to deal with – when the horses get a little more excited, he’s usually super chill, but he gets a little bit more excited in the show pen than I’m used to. I’ve kind of learned how to adjust my riding to what he’s doing.”

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