There’s nothing like the love of a horse to bring a family together. This is true for the women of the Banks family who discovered reining almost six years ago and haven’t looked back. We caught up with Kristie, Taylor and Brooke to hear about their time competing in the Classic Equine Green Reiner Program.
Kristie Banks – Vice President for Gilead Sciences, leading the COVID-19 Business Unit.
Taylor Banks – 16-year-old high schooler who recently committed to rein for Auburn University.
Brooke Banks – 14-year-old junior higher who is currently showing in 13&Under and green in her second year of reining.
1) How did your family first get involved with horses? How did that transition to reining?
I (Kristie) showed in Western pleasure and showmanship prior to having kids. I gave it up when I was pregnant with my first daughter (Taylor) and 2.5 years later, I had my second daughter Brooke. I held a fulltime role at a pharmaceutical company and was raising small kids, my plate was completely full. When Taylor was about 10, I started researching different trainers and western disciplines by where I lived. While I was still busy managing a career and kids, I felt like I missed having horses in my life. I found a local reining trainer and started taking lessons. I was immediately hooked and within a few months, I bought my first reining horse. I purchased AR Oakies Last Stand (Starlights Wrangler x Okie Dokie Dunnit) who was not only a patient teacher for me, but also ended up being Taylor’s first show horse. We still have this horse today and he just recently went into semi-retirement. This horse is also probably a reason we were all hooked on reining. For a few years, I went to shows and the kids would come along. I hoped they would share my love for horses, but I had no idea what an amazing journey this started. Today all three of us show and we have 5 reining horses at Chavez Performance Horses.
2) What have you enjoy most about competing in green reiner?
Kristie: The green reiner program allows riders who are new to showing feel successful. I know it was the green reiner classes that gave me the ability to go into the pen, make mistakes and have success among people going through the same thing as me. I always felt like it was great to see that once some riders had success they would step up to the next level. This way the green program always felt fair.
Brooke: I felt like the green program was fair and sometimes I could win something at a show where I would not be able to do if I were showing in other levels. I really think that taste of winning something is what hooked me on showing.
Taylor: It gives people starting out a place to show and feel successful. When you compete against people of your own skill level, it gives you an opportunity to compete in good size classes and have fun
3) How has the Classic Equine Green Reiner Program impacted your family?
Reining in general has been a blessing for our family. With two teenage daughters, I am thankful that we have the opportunity to show and compete at our own skill levels at each show. We each have gone through the green reiner program and levels. My kids started reining at different times, so they did not have to compete against each other because as their skill levels increased, they stepped into other levels. As a family we agree that some of our best memories will be the time we spent traveling to shows, competing and helping each other through the ups and downs. We all love showing and it never mattered if it was green reiner or a higher level class, we have just as much fun showing and being together. NRHA has also helped my kids realize their dream of continuing to show horses in college. Taylor will be going to Auburn University after high school and Brooke is fully focused on building her resume and trying to earn a scholarship for college. For me, seeing my kids love for the animals and having such a healthy hobby has made the biggest difference.
4) Why are programs for beginner reiners important?
I hope NRHA will continue to invest in the green program and others like it. There are many of us that pay a lot for horses, training, shows and everything else that comes with showing. Having an opportunity to win a class and show at your own level makes it worth it. Green reiners rarely win enough to pay their expenses, but this would be harder if they had to show at higher levels and never have success. I hope NRHA will not only continue to invest in derbies and big events, but also continue to support the people that want to get started and just have fun competing at lower levels.
A couple of weeks ago, Taylor received her Green Reiner II buckle. In the middle of COVID-19 and staying home all the time, Kristie said it was so fun to see the excitement that buckle brought her. Not only was it a beautiful buckle and but it was also a reminder that she was progressing to higher levels of competition.
For the month of March, we’re highlighting our Classic Equine Green Reiner Program! Stay tuned for more program highlights like this one all month long. And to learn more about green reiner, click here.