Angela Cawsey, Red Deer, Alberta, is a highly celebrated competitor in the Quarter Horse circuit, and her great mare, Maggie, is a beloved client at Energy Equine Veterinary Services. This year, at the Canadian National Quarter Horse Show, Cawsey finished up with a National Championship in Senior Trail, a National Championship in Amateur Trail and a Reserve National Championship title in Amateur Horsemanship. Today on the EE Blog, we sit down with Cawsey to talk competitive mindset, the ups and downs of showing horses and how Energy Equine has been a part of her success.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a pharmacist. I work full time at Red Deer Regional Hospital in Intensive Care and Critical Care. It can be a fast paced, high stress environment. I’m very privileged to work on an interdisciplinary team with physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians, physical therapists, other pharmacists. My role is to work with the rest of the team to optimize medications for our patients- ensuring they are on the correct anti infective medications, that their pain is managed and blood pressure is maintained, home medications are restarted as appropriate, that medications are adjusted to reflect organ function, etc.
2. How did you get involved with horses?
Horses have always been part of my life, I grew up on a farm south east of Red Deer and had a pony from an early age. My parents put me in Horse 4-H when I was 9, as well as showing in open shows. I moved on to taking lessons from a QH trainer to become more competitive and my parents purchased my first breed show quality quarter horse Sept 1997. I’ve shown in the QH circuit ever since. Through the years, I’ve traveled around Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, Washington, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Georgia to compete.
3. Tell us about your current string of horses?
My main show horse is Maggie. She’s a 12 year old brown mare that we purchased from Ohio in November 2009. She’s by HH Redrock (by Zippos Mr Goodbar) and out of a Zippo Amegio/Invitation Only mare. Initially Maggie only compete in western pleasure. We started doing the all around events in 2016 and I currently compete with Maggie in Western Horsemanship, Trail, Showmanship, and Huntseat Equitation at QH shows. I have a 4 year old bay mare prospect named Alex, also from Ohio. She’s by Keeping It Good (by Good Machine) and out of a Huntin for Chocolate mare. Finally I have a yearling prospect out of Maggie and by Extremley Hot Chips, who was reserve AQHA World and Congress Champion in Senior Western Pleasure last year.
Photo Credit: Holman Photography
4. Tell us a little bit more about Maggie.
Maggie’s registered name is ‘She Loves to Rock’. Maggie is a very unique character. She’s easy to be around and easy to handle. She’s very intelligent and inquisitive. She learns things quickly- which is both an asset and a liability as she’ll learn unfavourable things as quickly as she learns good ones. I often cannot practice my patterns ahead of time because she’ll have them figured out and anticipate maneuvers, trying to do them on her own. Her nickname is ‘the dragon’ because she can be amazing and completely in sync with me, but also has the capacity to and chooses to breathe fire instead at times. Maggie is very particular about who she likes – she loves a handful of people and is indifferent to everyone else.
5. Leading up to this year, what was your biggest success with Maggie?
Maggie and my biggest successes have been placing 4th (4th NSBA) in the level 1 Amateur Horsemanship at the Quarter Horse Congress in Ohio in 2016, placing 10th (5th NSBA) in the level 1 Amateur Horsemanship at Quarter Horse Congress in 2017, and placing 5th in the Level 1 Amateur Trail at NSBA (National Snaffle Bit Association) Worlds in Oklahoma in 2017. We were also 5th in the Non Pro Western Pleasure at NSBA Worlds in 2014.
Photo Credit: HD2 Sports
6. You obviously had a great Nationals, what were the ups and downs?
Nationals was challenging because Maggie wasn’t quite herself. She had full body hives on the Monday night before we left, acted like she had a belly ache Tuesday night, then had a flare up of stress ulcers. She didn’t show well at all on Wednesday. Fortunately Dr. Toth helped us out and got her some extra medication for her ulcers and we were able to get her a bit more comfortable.
7. What are you most proud about as a horsewoman this year?
This year I’m probably most proud of finishing Maggie’s AQHA open trail superior and winning the Open Senior Trail buckle at nationals. I taught Maggie trail myself and only started showing her in the Senior Trail last year, so it’s a good feeling to be able to put enough points on her for a superior and national championship while showing against the trainers.
8. What was your favourite moment at Nationals?
My favourite moment at Nationals was showing Maggie in the trail the second day – she was on top of her game and loving her job. Being able to take home the Amateur Trail buckle was also very special to me. The last time I was lucky enough to win it was with a great little mare I used to show named Jeanie, who we lost unexpectedly and far too soon in June.
Photo Credit: Holman Photography
9, What is your favourite event to show in?
My favourite event to show in is Trail. I love the challenge and precision of riding over the poles, having to be in the right spots, timing transitions, and problem solving when things don’t go quite as planned. Another favourite is Horsemanship because it requires so much connection and communication with your horse to ride a pretty, well executed pattern.
10. What has been the best advice your coach has given you that has led to your success?
I keep Maggie at home and do all my own riding but I take lessons and am coached at shows by Deserie Rieu of Deserie’s Performance Horses.
It’s difficult to say what the best advice Des has ever given me is because she’s honestly helped me so much. Des is both very talented and very kind. It’s challenging to ride on your own as a non pro, and Des is very supportive. She’s also awesome at coming up with suggestions for exercises for me to try when I’m struggling. She knows and understands Maggie and me very well. Des has really helped to build my confidence as a competitor as well, and pushed me to set bigger goals and work towards them. My biggest achievements have been with Des’s guidance and I can never thank her enough for that.
11. What is your best advice to fellow competitors?
My best advice to fellow competitors is to strive for progress not perfection. I always try to have a better ride than the one before, focus on improving a certain maneuver or obstacle, and having better communication with my horse. A good piece of advice I’ve been given is ‘it’s just a horse show, there will be more.’ It’s always good to try to keep perspective.
12. Do you deal with nerves or anxiety before you show?
I don’t typically get nervous at smaller shows, but I do at larger competitions south of the border. The best way for me to overcome it is to be well prepared. Know my patterns inside out, try to make sure Maggie is feeling well physically and mentally, know how much warm up we need, walking my trail patterns ahead of time to figure out my spacing- that sort of thing.
Photo Credit: HD2 Sports
13. Looking forward to next year, what are your goals?
Some of the goals I have for Maggie would be to ideally complete one or two more AQHA superiors and possibly compete at AQHA worlds or congress again. It’s always hard to plan too far ahead, life’s taught me that you never know what tomorrow will bring.
14. How has Energy Equine been involved with your horse’s care?
Energy Equine is my ‘go to’ for all my horses’s needs. Dr Hewlett has been Maggie’s primary sports medicine vet, keeping her comfortable and content to compete. Dr Toth has also helped me out on several occasions with various different needs. Dr Lait has also looks after my mare’s teeth.
The Energy Equine team is amazing. The staff at the front desk are always friendly, polite and accommodating. Chad Hewlett is the best soundness vet I’ve ever worked with, always thinking outside the box and focusing on progress and new techniques and technologies for their practice. For vet techs, I’ve primarily worked with Julie – she is incredibly skilled, knowledgeable and helpful. I’ve only had the opportunity to work with Kasara Toth a handful of times and she is amazing. Maggie was under the weather and Dr. Toth checked in with me twice a day, every day for updates on Maggie – you don’t get that kind of consideration and service very often.