This year’s Ram Invitational Freestyle Reining Champion, Sharee Schwartzenberger, is no stranger to horses or the sport. Her mother is an animal nutritionist, and her father is a veterinarian … both of whom also train horses. She has been riding and showing horses since she was young, but she really had no aspiration to make horses part of her career.
Schwartzenberger graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Hospitality Management, which she used to go on and become a wedding planner.
“I realized quickly that that was not my calling,” Schwartzenberger said.
She decided to go back home to the ranch and began helping with the family business. After completing one year of the National Reining Horse Association’s Apprentice Program, she finally decided she wanted to pursue a professional training career. The Apprentice Program is an opportunity for individuals in the reining industry to do one year of apprenticeship under an NRHA Professional.
“My sister and I always joke that it’s in our DNA,” Schwartzenberger said about having a career working with horses. “What I really enjoy doing is coaching non-pros and youth riders.”
Her father, Steve, is an NRHA Professional and has been competing at the RAM Invitational Freestyle Reining since it started 25 years ago. Watching her father and his routines inspired her to begin competing in freestyle herself.
And she’s pretty good at it. Schwartzenberger was the runner-up at Stock Show four years in a row. Continuing to chase down first place, she came back each year with amazing routines, great horses and her mind set on winning.
This year she carefully chose a song and routine she knew the audience would love, but one she also would have fun performing.
“My dad told me ‘Don’t go in there with the pressure of trying to win it. Just go out and have fun, and however the cards fall … they fall,’” Schwartzenberger said.
And the cards fell exactly where she wanted them to. Her bridleless routine to Elton John’s I’m Still Standing wowed both the crowd and the judges, finally earning her the title of champion.
Blog by: Kaitlyn Fulmer, 2020 Marketing & PR Intern
Kaitlyn Fulmer is a sophomore at Colorado State University pursuing a degree in Agricultural Business and Animal Science. At Colorado State, she is involved in Kappa Delta Sorority as well as Block and Bridle. After graduation, she hopes to start her own herd of beef cattle while also following her passions with photography. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and taking photos. She has been a proud patron of Stock Show her entire life, which makes this internship experience so much more special.