Taking the Reins

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“Taking the Reins,” New Era, June 2010, 34–35

Taking the Reins

When it comes to setting goals, this world champion is easily guided.

You could say that Emily Winegar is pretty good at horse reining. She was recently crowned the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Champion. She was named the National Reining Horse Association’s Youth of the Year in 2008. She’s rigorously training for the junior U.S. team for the World Equestrian Games.

Maybe we should rephrase: Emily Winegar is really good at horse reining.

Horse reining is a western riding competition in which a horse is judged on its athleticism and controllability by performing a series of circles, stops, and spins. The rider must control the horse with extremely limited movement, and Emily has worked hard to become proficient at it. She says that her many accomplishments can be traced back to one important habit: she sets goals for herself and takes the steps necessary to achieve them.

Emily says that she likes the Young Women Personal Progress program because it encourages setting goals, like reading her scriptures every day and getting married in the temple. But Personal Progress has proven fruitful in other ways, too. For her Knowledge value project, Emily started a dog breeding business. Though the project only called for 10 hours of work, Emily didn’t stop there. Two years later, her business continues to thrive, and she’s earned enough money for college.

Emily completed her Personal Progress and is now doing it for the second time. “A lot of Wednesday nights, we do activities related to Personal Progress, and I started thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve done this before.’ A girl in our ward finished the program about the same time I did, and she started doing it again. I thought it was really cool, so I decided to start working on it again, too.”

Setting goals and meeting them successfully requires ambition, practice, and in Emily’s case, a full schedule. On top of practicing for competitions, she’s a good student as well as an active participant in Church activities, and she makes sure to spend plenty of time with her family. “It’s not as hard as a lot of people think it is. Every night I make a to-do list and make sure I get everything done. It happens line upon line, just like the gospel.”

But Emily has even more to think about: she has to be a good example. “Everyone knows that I’m Mormon, and they watch to discover what that means,” Emily says. “I realize I may be a person’s first introduction to the Church, so it’s important that I radiate the gospel in my life. The scripture I keep on my mind most often is Alma 5:19, which says, ‘I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?’ I hope others can look at me and see the image of God in my countenance. I want them to know I’m a daughter of God.”

“You can’t be perfect overnight,” she says. “You have to take it step by step, even if it means reading five minutes a day in your scriptures. If you try to perfect the things you do, I think it helps you become a better member of the Church.” Spoken like a true champion.

Photograph by John Brasseaux