Though she grew up a city kid in the Manhattan area, Judy Parsons, now of Hugoton, has been around horses nearly her entire life. She always had a horse, and her grandparents had a farm.
“I was just a little girl who always wanted a horse. I was always horse crazy,” she said.
Parsons, 56, and her Paint gelding, Pistol Packin’ Picasso, also known as Oscar, completed a successful show season in 2016, culminating in earning Reserve High Point Amateur All Breed honors, four Reserve Champion class medallions, and a fourth-place medallion at the Ranch Horse Congress hosted by the Pinto Horse Association of America in Tulsa, Okla., in November.
Parsons raised Oscar, now age 6.
“He’s just like a little kid. He’s ornery, fun and a real fun personality. He just keeps getting better. He had a really good year,” she said.
Parsons is married to Bob Parsons, and has two adult sons, Eli and Levi Gantenbein. She earned a bachelor’s degree in management and ethics from Manhattan Christian College and a master’s degree in adult education from Kansas State University. She is the plant administrator at Kansas Dairy Ingredients in Hugoton.
Originally from Manhattan, Parsons has lived in Hugoton since she married Bob 16 years ago.
Parsons estimated she and Oscar went to about a dozen horse shows between April and November, and travel generally three to seven hours from Hugoton.
She has one other horse, a quarter-horse mare, she shows at quarter-horse and all-breed shows. The mare often goes along to Paint, all-breed or open shows with Oscar even if not competing.
“But two horses are a lot of work, so a lot of shows I’ll take one or the other, mainly Oscar. He’s younger,” Parsons said.
One aspect of horse shows Parsons enjoys is learning new things with the horses and improving how they perform. She works with a trainer, Brad Weller of Garden City, who began training Oscar when the horse was a year old.
“He’s always helping me learn how to do things better, and to grow as a rider,” Parsons said of Weller. “He trains Oscar to get better, and then he coaches me to ride Oscar better. It’s kind of like a football coach a little bit.”
When showing, Parsons is generally in the saddle, though she said there are a couple of show classes that have her on her feet in the show ring. There are also several different events at a show, but the last couple of years she and Oscar have been involved in ranch horse classes, which typically demonstrate the kinds of horsemanship skills used by working cowboys.
It was their first time to show at the Ranch Horse Congress. Like a human athlete, Parsons said Oscar seems to understand he’s competing.
“He likes it. And he knows. Sometimes he does something, and it’s like he wants to give the judges a show. But he’s getting older and doesn’t do that as much,” Parsons said. “He is a real athlete.”