Tampa, Fla. – Dec. 29, 2019 – Families have been competing, some against each other, at the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit with the nation’s best Quarter Horses for more than half a century. Each year, hundreds of riders participate in the renowned event at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center, so it is not unusual to find siblings and spouses vying for the top spots. One would expect them to be rivals, but in the case of the Banks family and the Potts family, the rivalry is more friendly than fierce.
This year, Kenneth and Laina Banks, of Schulenberg, Texas, trailered five horses to compete at the Florida State Fairgrounds in the Versatility Ranch Horse (VRH), Pleasure and Western Riding classes. They live together, ranch together and, several weeks out of the year, show together. They wouldn’t have it any other way. The couple takes turns in the spotlight, but win or lose, they offer each other unending support.
The Potts siblings, of Fountain Inn, South Carolina, have been coming to the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit ever since they first sat in the saddle. Alexis, 14, and Riley, 10, have been past Circuit Champions and occasionally competed against each other. Instead of a fierce rivalry, the brother-and-sister duo have only respect and admiration for each other, making for friendly competition.
Activities at the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit continue Monday. The schedule includes AQHA, APHA and NSBA hunter, equitation, pleasure, horsemanship and trail classes.
Winner in VRH Amateur Ranch Riding and VRH Amateur Ranch Trail
On competing at the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit:
“We have been coming to the show for four consecutive years. We love it because the show management makes the show so exhibitor friendly, they offer large classes and there is almost always beautiful weather. We brought five horses to the show this year.”
On competing as an equestrian couple:
“She always beats me, so I try not to compete against her. There is no question that she is the better rider. We travel to horse shows about 30 weeks a year. It’s a lot more fun doing this together. She takes care of my horses when I get ready to show and I help her when she shows. We live the horse show life. We are both part of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), we are on the Board of Directors. We met at the AQHA convention about 17 years ago.”
Laina Banks (Schulenburg, Texas)
Winner in Western Riding
“It has its moments when it can be a little stressful, but we really enjoy it because we get to help each other. It’s not about which of us is going to win, it’s all of us against the dirt because that’s really where your competition is. It’s you trying to do your best. We are very supportive of whoever wins. We have a friendly competition, sure, but it’s as much fun for me when he wins as when I win, maybe even more to watch him win.”
“The VRH program is quite successful and very large here. It’s a new category at the AQHA, so it’s really exciting to see its growth here. It’s a nice addition.”
Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation Competitor
“We have been coming to this show practically every year since I was born. We only missed one year to go to Walt Disney World.”
On her horse:
“My horse was really good. He listens very well, so I was happy with him. I been riding him for almost three years. We’ve had him since he was three and he’s about to turn six. He used to be my brother’s horse, but my brother is now riding Dexter, who used to be mine. We kind of trade them around.”
Riley Potts (10) and Deck Can Do A Star (Fountain Inn, South Carolina)
Hunter Under Saddle Competitor
“I have been riding my whole life. I’m scared to compete against my sister because she’s better than me!”
“I think I did a good job today. It was my first time showing the Hunter Under Saddle in a lope class. Last year I did the Walk/Trot in Pleasure and I was Circuit Champion every time. This year I am just doing the Hunter Under Saddle.”