"My mom grew up around horses. She had all her show trophies on the back wall in the living room and I was like, “I want those”. We always had horses, but I really didn’t start showing until I was eight or nine. My first show horse was a horse that my cousin had grown up with, and I showed her in 4-H from 2005 through 2008. And then it was about time for me to move up to another show horse and so we bought Skip in February 2009. He was three and I was thirteen at the time.


Showing horses really is a team sport, only your teammate is something that’s 1300 pounds, doesn’t talk, and has a mind of its own. My most memorable show was our 4-H Southern Regionals in August 2014. 4-H Southern Regionals are the top 50 riders from each of the 13 Southeastern states. That year was my least year in 4-H, and we actually won the showmanship, horsemanship, and western all-around that year. I don’t think I ever beat that showmanship pattern score at that show. After I aged out of 4-H, we started showing the quarter horse breed shows much heavier. Skip and I earned close to 250 AQHA points together over the years in everything from western pleasure to trail to showmanship, and even 1 point in western dressage. 

Unfortunately, I had to put Skip down back in February. We brought him to the vet school here [at Virginia Tech] and he was quite sick. We were five days short of our thirteenth anniversary. I put him down on the 23rd and that following Monday we would have had Skip for thirteen years. I’m taking some time off before I show again, although my mom’s already looking for horses." - Ryan Archer