Riding with Grandkids (Written by a Competitive Grandfather)

country tough trail versatility equine competition Apr 01, 2024
grandfather and granddaughter with horses

Let me introduce you to Bill Hachmeister!  Bill is a serious competitor in equine obstacle competitions, a former serious softball competitor, but he is also a beloved son, father, husband, and grandfather.  Bill was selected to be on the national board for the Country Tough Trail Versatility (CT2V), because of his thorough thought process skills, his dedication to improvement, and his role as both a competitor and a grandparent to competitive grandchildren.  After this sentence, I will hand this article over to someone I admire and respect, Bill Hachmeister.

I was born and raised on a farm in Western Kansas and remember riding my pony as a child. Prince would take me anywhere I wanted to go, fishing, riding the river, into the woods and even downtown to my Mom’s business. I would tie Prince up in the alley and go into Mom’s store to get a dime so I could buy a Coke. It never failed, when I would come out, Prince was gone, always to be found back at the barn gate, about a mile away, waiting to get in. One day, when I was about 8, I came out to see him trotting away. In my pursuit, one of the small town’s people asked me if I needed help catching him. I responded “Nope, I am trying to see if I can beat him home.”

That’s the way life was for me, whether it was competing in 4H showing cattle and my quarter horse, playing high school sports, college baseball or competitive softball on a national level. The competitive ache was always there. Still at 60+ years of age, when it comes time to compete on a high level I kick it up a notch, my horse Beau feels it and is ready to join the fun. I have learned to tune it down many notches when competing locally and helping my Grandkid’s riding and competing.

Having Grandchildren is a blast. My now 11 year old Granddaughter Kiley wanted to ride horses at the age of 6. We tried many disciplines of riding, from learning barrel racing, showmanship, to dressage. Nothing seemed to fit and Kiley was ready to give up on horse riding until we came across obstacle racing competition. She was hooked and so was I.

After 35 years of not riding a horse, I thought that I could do this too. My riding “restart” happened 4 years ago, which seems like yesterday. Little did I know what trail this adventure was going to lead us down. We now own 5 horses, 3 of which are used as equine therapy horses, at Hope and Healing Academy.

My Grandson Corbin, at the age of 2, participated in a couple lead line events where I led him in a circle and everyone gets a First Place Blue Ribbon. On his 3rd birthday I surprised him by entering him in a lead line obstacle competition at Von Holten Ranch. He too, is hooked. He likes to trot, which makes Grandpa really work to keep up but it keeps me young at heart.  

I have always been a firm believer in setting the bar high and using all resources to obtaining the set goals. Even though I was finishing competitions well, I wasn’t happy with my performance. I felt like I was plowing through obstacle competitions and Kiley had learned some bad habits that needed to be corrected. We turned to Cindy Branham of Rockin RC Horsemanship to learn to ride properly. I have learned that riding should be easier. We are working hard at not working so hard. Cindy’s guidance is teaching Kiley, and me, the fine points of riding by using our seat, legs, posture, and hands properly. If I had only learned this as a child it would be so much easier today. 

I felt like we were becoming one dimensional riders and our horses were becoming one dimensional horses. We needed to expand our disciplines. I was really excited when Brandy Von Holten, of Von Holten Ranch, approached me to be a board member for her new national organization Country Tough Trail Competition (CT2V). This national organization is composed of 3 disciplines. 1: Ranch Horsemanship 2: Obstacles 3: Natural Trail Obstacles. Scoring is given in each discipline to determine the overall winner. In order to be competitive in CT2V Ranch Horsemanship, Cindy Branham is teaching Kiley, and me, skills she uses in training herself for Working Equitation competitions. Wow what a difference I see in Kiley and myself.

The last 5 years have brought tears, sweat, blood, concussions, broken bones and surgeries caused from horse riding and competing. Along with this comes the love of Kiley and Corbin forming bonds with their horses, other riders, and Grandparent’s. It is something that can only be obtained by being involved in their life. Yes, it’s hard to get up before the sun rises and drive to a competition before the crack of dawn. All the efforts put into Kiley and Corbin’s relationships will be remembered and appreciated long after I am gone.

I urge Grandparent’s to take their kids riding, rent a horse for a day, lease a horse, or buy a horse. Get involved in your Grandchild’s life. It doesn’t have to be on a competitive nature. Some of our best times are on the trail bonding and building relationships by being together in nature while supporting each other. Once you take the first trail ride, with your younger generation, you will be hooked.  


Written by Bill Hachmeister and Brandy Von Holten 

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