By Britney Grover
From her home base at OZ Incorporated in Canby, Oregon, just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Shelley Campf and her husband, Jeff, run a national-level hunter, jumper and equitation barn. Both raised in Calgary, Canada, where Jeff’s mother was Shelley’s trainer, Jeff and Shelley are longstanding advocates of the equestrian community in the Pacific Northwest. Shelley volunteers her time at a national level on the USHJA Board of Directors, on the Executive Committee, and as Treasurer and as Chairman of the USHJA Trainer Certification Program. As a token of her dedicated service, Shelley was awarded the 2009 USHJA Volunteer of the Year Award. In addition to her positions with the USHJA and horse show management, Shelley still actively rides, competes and trains: She has been the Northwest Professional World Champion Hunter Rider seven times since 2008 and reserve the remaining three years, and her students regularly win ASPCA Maclay, World Champion Hunter Rider, Horse of the Year and Oregon Hunter Jumper Association regional championships. As if her extensive career with horses wasn’t enough, Shelley is also mother to two teenage boys. Sidelines was grateful Shelley said yes to an interview amidst her busy routine.
If you had a week off, what would you do?
My life is so overscheduled that if I had a week off, I’d try to do as little as possible: lie on a beach somewhere — Mexico would be a top spot or somewhere exotic like Bali.
What are the top things you hope you’ve taught your children?
To be kind, to be honest and to have perseverance
What was the funniest horse moment you’ve ever had?
When I was a kid, my little sister was at a horse show at Thunderbird and was practicing lead changes in a paddock where there was a bucket — she was about 7 years old. She fell off and ended up being stuck with her bum down in the bucket and her hands and feet in the air. My other sister and I found the pony, and set about finding our little sister, who was in the bucket. We thought it was hilarious, and of course we didn’t want to take her out of the bucket immediately — she, and my mother, didn’t think it was nearly as funny as we did.
What’s your favorite movie?
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to read peoples’ minds
Who inspires you?
The people who are selfless — it’s a complicated balance in our lives to strive to do things really well and keep ourselves progressing, but then to maintain the balance of being selfless at the same time.
What’s one “old fashioned” hunter trend you’d like to see return?
I would like to see appointment classes: If you have an appointments class, the riders have to have appropriate items such as a sandwich box, a flask, a hunting whip and various other items. I think it would be fun — we have conformation classes for the horses, and appointment classes would be for the people!
What is your favorite tack store item to shop for?
I don’t go to tack stores very often, so the only thing I do go to tack stores for are One Knot hairnets.
If someone gave you the best gift in the world, what would it be?
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
I like to cook with my son Blake; he and I exchange being sous-chef and we’re constantly trying to cook things as complicated as possible just to see if we can pull it off. But right now my favorite thing to cook would probably be beef Wellington.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I have “I Can’t Say No” disease — I’m constantly telling people yes when I don’t really have time to do it. People ask me for help with this or to do that, and I wonder, Why am I saying yes? Well, because I have “I Can’t Say No” disease.
What career would you have chosen if horses weren’t an option?
I thought about that a lot: I was interested in investment banking, and I also thought that I might like to be a trauma surgeon or something like that, things that are exciting and spur-of-the-moment.
What animal best personifies you?
What talents do you feel you have?
I have hobbies; I wouldn’t necessarily call them talents: I play the piano, I waterski and snow ski, I sail, so I can blend into any situation — if someone wants to go golfing, I can go golfing; if someone wants to go sailing, I can go sailing; if they want to go skiing, I can go skiing. It comes from having a lucky upbringing, learning how to do everything.
If you could change one thing about horse showing, what would it be?
The cost: I wish it was more available to more people. Horses give such great gifts, especially for teenagers. They learn responsibility, it’s something they love and they can take pride in looking after their animals and showing. Sadly, the experience is forever changing because the costs are so high. I wish it could be less expensive so it could be more mainstream and more people could enjoy it.
When traveling to horse shows, is there any item you tend to forget?
It’s a pretty well-oiled machine, but on occasion I forget the radios. It makes everyone’s job much more difficult without them so I feel really, really bad for our entire team when I forget them.
What’s your personal motto or catch-phrase?
You make your own luck.
What’s something you think everyone should try at least once?
We should all try new things, even if it’s out of our comfort zone, when given the opportunity by others. We tend to be too careful and I think that our culture teaches us to be careful about this and not get hurt by that, or somebody’s going to sue you or think about the liability, but I think everybody should try things that come along to make their experiences broader.
How would you like people to remember you?
I’d like people to remember me as someone who always tries to help other people.