In the show pen, friends are made and rivals are created. Is it any different when you already know those people? Siblings can create a whole new experience in the arena. Just ask twins Brianne and Bailey Lundberg.
These sisters have been showing together since they were four years old, and now on their way to being seniors in highschool, they are still showing together. After all this time of showing together the arena has molded the unbreakable bond these twins share. “Showing with my sister makes our bond stronger because we get to connect with each other even more through something we both enjoy,” Bailey says. The older sister of this twin duo by a whole two minutes, something she loves to hold over Brianne's head.
Brianne goes on to express why showing together has strengthened their bond, “It is fun competing with someone you’re so close to because it gives you comfort in overwhelming situations. Knowing your best friend is experiencing the same things you are helps with motivation, and keeps me relaxed. We could always rely on one another to be each other’s biggest support system, and that really strengthened everything about us.”
However, just like any other siblings there can be fights, but these girls end their quarrels when it comes to the show pen. “In a situation where we show in the same event, I would feel like I really want to support my sister, but I also have a very competitive nature. So, occasionally one side would overrule the other, but I would always try to be both. If my sister places higher, then I am always really happy for her because she’s my best friend, and she’s always shown that love and support towards me. Sometimes I get a little jealous or disappointed from where I stand in the situation of not doing as well as I had hoped,” Brianne expresses.
These girls do not compete against each other like they used to. With Bailey competing in Hunter Under Saddle, Equation and Horsemanship while Brianne shows in Western Pleasure, Trail, and Showmanship. “I enjoy showing separate events so then we can watch each other ride. When we are in the same class we can’t watch each other or cheer each other on,” Bailey says, but she does reflect on the times when they did compete against each other, “Competing against my sister was very fun! After the class was over in the line up we would always chat and ask each other how our goes went.”
These twins do think that their bond is stronger than regular siblings. “ I think we are closer as twins than if we were just sisters because we grew up by each other’s sides our entire lives,” Bailey remarks about being twins. Brianne elborates about their dynamic, “So many people ask what it’s like being a twin, and I tell them all the same thing. It is having your best friend with you 24/7. We are so much closer than just normal siblings because we have an inseparable bond that grows stronger as we get older. We have done everything together, and that won’t stop as we continue on through life. I’m so incredibly blessed to have a twin, two minutes older than me and all.” Though they know being twins has made their relationship that much stronger, they also know that all the years showing together is what really brought them together. “Having a sister with whom I can share these memories and experiences with has been such a highlight of my life, and having the sweetest little mare to be my partner in the arena is a blessing. Wouldn’t trade either of them for anything,” Brianne finishes.
Alex and Cassie Ehrle are another showing sister duo. They began their career five years ago, sharing their horse Zips Sweet Talkin for a year before Alex got her own. Alex is only three years older than Cassie but she pulls the big sister card with wanting nothing more than for her sister to excel. “Personally, it is very hard to show against my sister. We both are very competitive and both would love to win, but when it comes to the time we show, we both just show to the best we can. Each time I show with Cassie, I almost wish Cassie to beat me so that she does well. It makes it really hard, but we make it work.” Alex even admits to acting like the older sibling, “I definitely find myself acting like an older sister at the shows! It is hard to believe sometimes that Cassie has grown into such a wonderful, independent, and grown young lady. It still feels like she is my little sister, so I try to still treat her as that little sister.” However Cassie doesn't seem to mind when she does, “I love having my older sister at the shows with me! She plays so many roles for me when we are showing (Sorry Alex!) She is my constant sister, best friend, mentor, personal assistant, and so much more!”
Despite the tight bond these sisters have, the age gap can impact their relationship, “For the longest time, the age gap between my sister and I (3 years), did not affect our relationship inside or outside the show arena. As we have gotten older and we are now in the same age division and I am in college now, it makes it a little hard as we are both in a little different place in our lives,” Alex remarks. “We are close enough that I think of her as my best friend but far enough apart in age to disperse much of the competition,” Cassie adds on. Yet, showing together and playing piano with the same master instructor has kept these girls close knitted. “Showing together definitely makes our relationship stronger. We are able to spend much more time together than most siblings! It is so rare for siblings to share a sport or interest which makes the fact that we are able to share our love for horses so much more special! Showing together also gives me a great respect for my sister because I see and understand how hard she works to achieve her goals,” Cassie's gushes about her sister. Alex, always returning the same amount of support and admiration, says that, “It is wonderful to have Cassie at all the shows with me! She is so supportive and such a wonderful personality. She is always very helpful, never misses a class, and always gives really good feedback after all my classes. I really could not ask for a better sister or showing competitor.”
When sharing so many elements of their lives together, you'd think these sisters would be fighting against each other, but they seem to be doing quite the opposite. “Cassie and I are very competitive, but I am more competitive towards other riders rather than my sister. Every show, I set myself personal goals, but when showing against Cassie, they never include beating her. I do enjoy showing in different events than Cassie because it allows us to have our own separate talents and interests.”
Cassie feels very similar about the relationship they share when it comes to showing in the arena, “It often feels like we are showing as a team against the other riders rather than showing against each other.” Cassie finishes with stating, “Beyond our experiences together at the shows, I feel so blessed and lucky to have her as my sister! Throughout my entire life Alex has been so supportive of everything that I have endeavored. While I was undergoing treatment for leukemia, she was always there to take care of me and encourage me. Even on the roughest days, she knew how to cheer me up and give me hope! I also owe our strong bond to our parents, Steve and Michelle, who decided to homeschool us from a young age and allowed us to follow our dreams in every path.”
Despite the competitiveness horse showing can ignite in someone, these sister duos keep it civil. Focusing on preserving and growing the relationships they have with each other. Whether they are twins or not, siblings will always be there to support and help each other in every aspect of life, which is better than any trophy out there.