ERIE, Michigan — When you think about all the traditional sports that have been affected over the last month and a half, one sport you might not be thinking about, the world of showing horses.
Stephanie Gill and her husband started showing horses over 30 years ago. Now, they’ve turned it into a family affair. Normally at this time of year the family would be traveling all over the Midwest to show horses, but with stay-at-home orders in place, they’ve had to find new ways to compete.
“It’s interesting,” said Gill. “We don’t know film production or anything like that. We’re learning quickly how to make a video that actually works that someone wants to see online.”
Virtual horse shows have had to replace the real thing for the time being. Shaw is the oldest. He’s taken on the role of family photographer. For those unfamiliar with showing horses, they get dressed up and essentially get to show off with the horse. They then get judged for their abilities. Doing this all with videos they submit has certainly been a change.
“It’s definitely a different perspective,” said 16-year-old Tate Gill. “(But in) some ways it’s still being the same. Still the excitement of waiting to see what you get. Waiting to see what you placed. Also waiting to see how much work you can put into it and how much it does affect your score virtually or face-to-face.”
The youngest member of the family is 8-year-old Rye. He’s already pretty darn good and he’s just getting started. He’s been a little disappointed not being able to make the family trips, but he’s making the most of things right now.
“I have lots of fun showing my horses,” said Rye. “It’s kinda hard because we can’t go places we like to go as a family, so we have to stay home and do the stuff we can do at home.”
The relationships that are formed through this go much deeper than you might think. For Rye, he’s got plenty of reasons to love his horses.
“I like that they’re cute,” said Rye. “They’re fun to ride and they’re really nice to humans.”
“Horses have personalities,” said Tate. “It’s very fun to see what they act like. How they act around you, how they act around other people. Being able to go out and compete with them, if you get something, you know that you’ve proven something with them. It builds a lot of trust and it builds a lot of character.”
The family is still very active. Even on Thursday, they were out in the barn making more videos and entering even more divisions.