Show Pen Preparedness, Part I: Meet Our Expert, Christy Snyder Kelly

Introducing a brand-new mini series on show pen preparedness! Contributor Carly Kade talks with professional horsewoman Christy Snyder Kelly in five installments about popular western performance classes.

Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 3.58.51 PM

In this new series for Horse Nation, I talk with Christy Snyder Kelly, head horse trainer at Hold Your Horses Inc., an organization that has been in the business of training AQHA, APHA, and NSBA horses for three generations. Through the interviews and video sessions in this series, Horse Nation followers will glean insight from someone who has been coaching and training champions for years. The topics will be of interest to enthusiasts of the western horseback riding discipline:

In this first edition, let’s meet Christy Snyder Kelly and learn about her qualifications!

What are your specialties?

I specialize in being able to tailor a program to fit my client’s needs and budget to meet their goals – whether it is a beginner learning to ride or a rider who wants to win at a world show. I provide all-around western and English training as well as lessons, from beginners to advanced and from local to world level showing in Arizona and across the United States.

How did you get your start in horse training?

I grew up with horses. My parents were trainers and I had a very successful youth career. It has always been a part of my life and there was really no question as to what I was going to do when I grew up.

My parents were known for many things in the horse industry in addition to being respected horse trainers. My father wrote articles for the AQHA Journal and my mother was the past president of the Breeders Association. I had the opportunity to ride under some of the top trainers including Casey Hinton and Trisha (Hamilton) Sarcett. I didn’t really have a favorite horse as I learned valuable things from all of them and they all taught me something. My favorite classes have always been the pattern classes and something I excelled in during my youth career. Some of my favorite wins were winning at the Congress, winning Rookie of the Year and winning at the Youth World Show.

How do you keep current and stay on top of trends in the industry?

Being at the shows is a great way to stay on top of the trends and changes within the industry. You get to talk to other trainers and ask questions. A lot of learning is just watching the classes or the practicepen at shows which you can do easily as there is typically a lot of waiting and down time. Social media and websites are a great way to stay on trend too. There are always new articles coming out with changes in the industry. It’s a great budget-friendly way to find training tips and tricks.

What advice would you give someone interested in showing at the World Show level?

Be prepared for a lot of hard work and some hard lessons along the way. Showing at a world level is very rewarding, but it does take time, money and a lot of effort. You can buy the horse, buy the clothes and buy the saddle but you cannot buy experience in the show ring and good old fashioned hard work. You need to be able to take constructive criticism and truly want to get better. Letting go of mistakes and learning from them is something you need to learn early on in order to become a mature rider and showman. Those are the people that can really succeed at a world show level.

To bling or not to bling?

If you have the budget to be able to get a nice, well-fitting bling outfit for the classes in which bling is appropriate, then definitely do it. I’m a big fan of a symmetrical design for showmanship, horsemanship and pleasure especially if you are a novice as this helps to keep everything square and balanced. If you do not have the budget for a high-end bling outfit, invest in a quality hat and chaps. Be sure your hat is well shaped and your chaps fit well. Chaps cover half your body and bad fit can really take away from your leg position and overall presentation.

Classic lines are always in style when it comes to outfits and tack. It is better to outride than to “out bling” but if you have the budget to show in a high-end outfit or fancy show tack, then you can really show your personality and think outside the box in western pleasure, western riding and trail. Horsemanship, showmanship and halter should be classy looks with or without bling. Keep it tasteful and figure flattering in these classes. Clean tack is always in style, so be sure your tack is clean and well-fitting.


About Christy Snyder Kelly: Christy trains, teaches, buys and sells, prepares show horses and develops horse and rider teams in Arizona. Anyone interested in learning more about the Hold Your Horses Equestrian Team and Christy’s Angels can visit the Hold Your Horses, Inc. website here:

About Carly Kade: Carly Kade is an author of equestrian fiction. In her free time, Carly enjoys competitively showing her registered Paint Horse, and works on her next novel. In The Reins, Carly’s cowboy romance novel inspired by the equestrian lifestyle has been an Amazon equestrian best seller for more than 10 weeks and is an official 2016 EQUUS Film Festival literary selection. The novel is available now in paperback and eBook. Visit for details. Connect with Carly Kade Creative on Facebook or Twitter @carlykadeauthor.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *