Shelly Hartmann says she was born with “a horse bug,” and at 51 with 18 years of competition behind her, she is just getting warmed up.
Hartmann and her Palomino horse, Mistresses Milky Way, have won the National Reining Horse Association’s 2017 North American Affiliate Championship in the Non Pro and Intermediate Non Pro divisions, and they have several top 10 titles, including American Quarter Horse Association World Show.
In January, Hartmann will be one of 14 riders invited to compete for $20,000 in the RAM Invitational Freestyle Reining event at the 2019 National Western Stock Show. Hartmann’s Invitational Freestyle Reining event will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 13 at the National Western Stock Show Coliseum, 4655 Humboldt St. Denver, CO 80216.
Hartmann’s enthusiasm certainly speaks to doing what you love at any age, which is a cornerstone of what AARP is all about. While Hartmann will not be competing during AARP Night at the National Western Stock Show, she emulates the AARP spirit and invites everyone to get out and see what the National Western Stock Show has to offer this year.
AARP members and guests are invited to enjoy AARP Night at the National Western Stock Show and may purchase discounted $16 tickets for the Jan. 23 rodeo at 7 p.m. Stop by the AARP information table on the coliseum concourse near portal 14/15 and mingle with staff, volunteers and fellow members. Learn what AARP is doing in your community, as well as enter for a chance to win a steak dinner.* Call 720-838-6745, or visit tinyurl.com/NWPromo, and use ANDRUS to order your tickets.** Tickets include:
• All-Day Grounds Admission.
• Trade Show Entrance, including more than 900 vendors.
• Mutton Bustin’ and Baby Farm Animals Exhibit.
• 5:15 p.m. – Rodeo 101, a behind-the-scenes look at the sport of rodeo.
• 7 p.m. – Rodeo located in the coliseum.
• Free parking on the west side of coliseum south of Interstate-70.
Hartmann said she fell in love with reining as a young girl attending the National Western Stock Show. Western riding competition reining requires riders to guide their horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins, and stops, either at a lope or a gallop.
“You need a deep connection with the horse to do what they do,” she said.
Hartmann began her riding career with the Westernaires, a Denver-area mounted precision drill team for children and young adults that is entering its 70th year. She met her husband, Chad, while riding with the Westernaires.
“Luckily he had the horse bug, too,” she said.
The Hartmanns each have a Palomino and compete in western riding events throughout the region. They are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and to honor their union, they will ride together in the Stock Show. Shelly will wear her wedding dress and ride to the Clint Black recording of “When I Said I Do.”
Hartmann said it takes two-and-a-half years to fully train a reining horse. Mistresses Milky Way is a 10-year-old Quarter horse who has been competing in reining for more than six years.
“Keeping your horse in shape is one of the sport’s challenges,” Hartmann said. “They need to condition just like any athlete. They go for lessons, which can mean hauling them up to an hour-and-a-half for a place to ride. And you need good weather for riding.”
Another challenge is finding time to train and compete with a full-time work schedule. Hartmann is an FDIC bank examiner, who uses vacation time and money for shows and can be on the road two-to-five weeks a year.
What keeps Hartmann riding is the connection with her horse.
“I love feeling like you’re one with your horse,” she said. “It’s about the level of difficulty and control. And my horse is one big ham. He gives smiles and kisses.”
*No purchase or payment necessary to enter for a chance to win. A purchase or payment will not increase your chances of winning.
[Photo courtesy of Shelly Hartmann]