Back to My American Quarter Horses

After five incredible months as an AQHA intern, it’s time to giddy-on up to the next adventure.

Ginger, Misty, Larry and Goldie hang out in the pasture at home in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Annette Montplaisir

Ginger, Misty, Larry and Goldie hang out in the pasture at home in Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Annette Montplaisir

During my AQHA internship in Amarillo, I was rarely troubled by homesickness. I quickly settled into my new life and developed a routine, made friends and experienced the highlights of what Amarillo has to offer. These include going to a drive-in movie theater for the first time (this should be a bucket list item for everyone), mountain biking in Palo Duro Canyon, and even taking in the Texas music scene (I never thought I’d see so many Texas-shaped tattoos in my entire life).

If there’s one thing that did invoke a twinge of longing for home, it was bright sunny days cooled by a gentle breeze – perfect days for horseback riding. Days like this, I could picture myself at home in Minnesota, cantering bareback down the road on my horse “Misty” or saddling up “Larry” to work on jumping in the pasture. Boy, have I missed the feeling of riding a horse!

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Confessions of an Intern

Being an intern is not about being perfect — it’s about accepting that you’re not perfect.

Live, laugh, learn — it’s all part of being an intern. Photo by Annette Montplaisir

Live, laugh, learn — it’s all part of being an intern. Photo by Annette Montplaisir

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

The other day, it dawned on me that I have less than a month left as the online communications and publications intern for the American Quarter Horse Association.

Wow. Time flies. And what a time it has been.

Before moving to the AQHA international headquarters in Amarillo, there was a lot of what-ifs running through my head. What if I get homesick? What if I can’t handle my work load? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I’m terrible at my new job?

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An Emphasis on Attitude

To realize your potential — at horse shows and beyond — you sometimes need to adjust your perspective.

Sometimes gracefully accepting loss is far more difficult than winning. Annette Montplaisir photo

Sometimes gracefully accepting loss is far more difficult than winning. Annette Montplaisir photo

By Annise Montplaisir, AQHA spring 2015 intern

Horse showing is just as much a test of mental strength and endurance as a physical one. Of course, raw talent will give you an edge, hard work will improve your abilities and a constructive trainer will sharpen you up. But when you walk into that arena, the one thing that ties it all together is your state of mind.

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog articles, at the beginning of March I flew home to compete in an Intercollegiate Horse Show Association horse show with the North Dakota State University hunt seat equestrian team. For those of you not familiar with IHSA, here’s how it works: Universities host horse shows and provide the horses. Competitors are paired with horses at random by drawing names. You don’t have any warm up time – you mount your horse in the arena and immediately begin a jumping course or a flat class. The idea is to level the playing field by putting all the riders on horses they’ve never ridden and judge them on their equitation and skill. Riders are divided into different categories, including open, intermediate and novice, depending on their riding experience.

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Finding a Great Internship, Part 2

So you’ve found an awesome internship. Here’s how to get the most out of your experience:

To receive college credit for riding on my university’s equestrian team, I have continued taking riding lessons throughout my internship. Cailin Caldwell photo.

To receive college credit for riding on my university’s equestrian team, I have continued taking riding lessons throughout my internship. Cailin Caldwell photo.

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 intern

Awesome internships are not magical unicorns – they do exist. In Part 1 of Finding a Great Internship, I gave you some advice on how to locate your ideal internship based on your major and career aspirations. In Part 2, I’ll tell you how to get the most beneficial experience based on what the internship offers you and the work you put in.

Tailor your internship to fit your needs.

When I was offered the position to work at AQHA as the spring online communications and publications intern, the first thing I did (after doing a small happy dance in the school library) was march to my adviser’s office to ask him the pros and cons of accepting the position and how much it would put me behind with my classes. As we all know, college is not cheap, so the primary factor in my decision was how it would affect my scholarships. Most scholarships that are distributed over a four-year period require you to remain a full-time student. My adviser sat me down and talked me through how I could receive college credit by completing the internship and still be a full-time student.

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Finding a Great Internship, Part 1

From one college student to another, follow these steps over spring break to find the internship of your dreams.

AQHA intern Annise Montplaisir interviews champion owners at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions ceremony. Journal photo.

AQHA intern Annise Montplaisir interviews champion owners at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions ceremony. Journal photo.

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

With spring break upon us, I have no doubt that school and anything remotely relating to the topic is the last thing on the minds of most college students. However, if you’re pondering the idea of applying for an internship, there’s no time like the present to begin researching and exploring your options. I’d like to lend you a bit of insight I’ve gained from my own internship experience here at AQHA to guide you in your search.

Research the requirements for your major.

Some majors require you to complete an internship, while others do not. I am majoring in management communication and international studies with a minor in Spanish, and I am not required to do an internship. If you have an academic adviser at your school or university, schedule a meeting to talk through your required classes and whether or not an internship is required for you to graduate and, if so, what type of internship. Some schools are very specific about the internships that qualify. I have met far too many college students who don’t utilize the guidance of their adviser. Advisers are there to help you weigh the logistics of making a big decision, such as applying for an internship.

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These Are The Days

Annise Montplaisir reflects on the first half of her AQHA internship.

Annise and her horse Misty enjoy a trail ride. Photo by Annette Montplaisir

Annise and her horse Misty enjoy a trail ride. Photo by Annette Montplaisir

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

I always marvel at how quickly time flies by. When I first moved to Amarillo for my AQHA communications and publications internship, I was keenly aware of the five- month committment that stretched out before me. Becoming homesick was a concern, as this was the farthest I’ve ever been away from home for a significant amount of time. With that in mind, I was already looking forward to the first weekend in March, when I would have the opportunity to visit home and compete with the North Dakota State University hunt seat team at an IHSA show in Crookston, Minnesota. I couldn’t wait to see my family, friends, dogs, beloved equine pals and teammates again.

But I needn’t have worried. During what felt like the blink of an eye, 55 days have passed, and my brief trip home lies a mere eight days from now.

On my very first day of work here at AQHA, the song, “These Are the Days” by Keith Urban popped into my head. One of the verses goes like this:

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Santa Doesn’t Bring Ponies

AQHA Intern Annise Montplaisir tells the story of how horses made their way into her life.

Annise with her first pony, Ginger. Photo courtesy of Annette Montplaisir

Annise with her first pony, Ginger. Photo by Annette Montplaisir

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

Every person with a passion for horses also has a story of how that passion was kindled. I was bit by the horse bug when I was around 3 years old. Prior to that, lions were actually my favorite animals. Don’t ask me how I was converted from admiring predators to prey animals, but in the long run horses were definitely the wiser selection of mammal.

I was not born into a family of horse people. My parents had never owned horses, but lucky for me, my mom loved horses almost as much as I did. When I was 5 years old, my family packed up and moved from the city to a home in the country with the idea that perhaps, someday, horses would be a possibility.

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Appreciating the Unpredictability of Life

During the past year, life has taken me on a wild ride and left me in the dust more than once.

Galloping horses at the North Dakota Horse Park.

Galloping horses at the North Dakota Horse Park.

By Annise Montplaisir, spring 2015 AQHA intern

To say that life is like riding a racehorse sounds absolutely ridiculous. But in all honesty, it’s completely true – and I should know. One moment, you’re galloping along feeling like you have things figured out, and the next you’re sitting on your butt in the dust scratching your head as you watch the horse cruise down the track without you. At that point, you probably mutter to yourself, “Where did that come from?”

I’m the type of person who always has a plan for my life – what I want to be, where I want to go to school, the jobs I want to work. But life doesn’t always go as planned.

Exactly one year ago I was a freshman in college at North Dakota State University. I had a handle on classes, rode on the NDSU hunt seat equestrian team and participated in the Horsemen’s Association club. But something wasn’t right – I didn’t have a plan for the upcoming summer. Let me remind you that this was in February. Continue reading