All-Around Youth

Erika Rodenski and her best friend, “Winslow,” had smooth sailing to the 2012 AQHA youth all-around high-point title.

By Jennifer K. Hancock
The American Quarter Horse Journal
April 17, 2013

Erika Rodenski and Good Time To Win, the 2012 AQHA youth all-around high-point winners

Erika Rodenski and Good Time To Win had two top-10 finishes at the 2012 Ford Youth World, finishing fifth in trail and eighth in western riding. (Journal photo)

Editor's note: The 2012 AQHA all-around winners, as well as the year-end high-point champions, are featured in the April issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal. To celebrate the winners, the digital edition of the Journal is free this month. Read the April digital Journal now.

You might say that Erika Rodenski and Good Time To Win licked the competition in the race to be all-around youth high-point winners in 2012. But that’s just what “Winslow” does. He licks everything, and his favorite thing to lick, it seems, is his 18-year-old show partner.

“He’s just like a dog,” Erika says with a laugh. “Whenever I am not paying attention to him, he tries to lick me to get my attention – whether it’s on my arm or my face, he doesn’t seem to mind.”

And what better time to get in some licks than during practice?

“During showmanship practice, he will get bored and lick me – almost like, ‘Are we done yet?’ ” Erika says.

“He’s one of those who’s too smart for his own good,” Erika continues. “He can do a lot of things, but when it comes down to easy tasks, it’s like brain surgery for him.”

Looking at Good Time To Win’s show record and seeing the 300 points that he and Erika have accumulated during the past few years in showmanship, you’d think that the gelding was an old pro in the class. But when Erika’s family purchased the now 13-year-old gelding, showmanship wasn’t in his bag of tricks.

“When we got him and we were doing the vet check, they had to chase him to get him to trot,” Erika recalls.

Now that he has learned the skills, he’d rather not practice too much, but he and Erika are doing something right. In 2012, Erika and Good Time To Win were the youth trail high-point winners. They also finished second in the year-end youth standings in showmanship, western riding and performance halter geldings. They were fourth in the year-end standings in horsemanship. They also had two top-10 finishes at the 2012 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, finishing fifth in trail and eighth in western riding.

The many accomplishments of 2012 took years of hard work and dedication. When an 8-year-old girl arrived at Jim and Linda Becker’s Becker Show Horses 10 years ago with little horse experience and no show experience, it was impossible to know the success that she would achieve.    

Today, that little girl is a high school senior, and the Beckers consider her family. Together they have traveled many miles and made many memories thanks to American Quarter Horses.

“She’s a great student, and she has done very, very well,” Linda says. “She has had a great show career. I don’t know if she has ever been to an AQHA show where she didn’t earn a point.

“She’s a great kid who never gives you one second of problems,” Linda adds. “She’s always on time for her lessons; she’s very conscientious on the care of her horse. She’s been with us since she was 8 years old, and we’ve never had one iota of a problem with her.”

James Collier Jr. of Loxahatchee, Florida, bred Good Time To Win. The gray gelding is by Good Time To Shine and is the only foal out of the Winchester mare Winchesters Baby, who qualified to open, amateur, Select and youth world shows in multiple classes during her show career. Foals by Good Time To Shine, who is by Zippos Mr Good Bar, have earned more than 3,000 AQHA points all divisions combined and more than $23,000 in National Snaffle Bit Association earnings. Of his 115 foals, Good Time To Shine has sired four AQHA Champions all divisions combined.

Winslow is a true all-around horse, and is shown in both western and English classes. Erika has earned youth points in halter, showmanship, trail, reining, western riding, horsemanship, western pleasure, hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation.  

“He’s good at everything, but trail, showmanship and western riding are his strongest classes,” Linda says.

What’s Erika’s favorite class? It’s a tie between trail and western riding. 

“ ‘Win’ likes trail a lot,” Erika explains. “He was born to do that. It’s his class. I like to do it because he likes it. I like western riding because it’s challenging. You have to go in and lay down your best pattern because if you are off on one (maneuver), the whole rest of the pattern is going to be downhill.”

The only downside to winning the all-around title seems to be the coast to the finish.

“We started in Florida, and we had a good show there,” Erika says of how the year began. “We took a two-month break. Then we went to March to the Arch, and I had a pretty good show there. By mid-July, we started doing really well. One weekend, I accumulated 70 points, so we just kept going at it. In July, we decided that winning the all-around was probably within reach, and we should probably try for it.”

If they had a crystal ball to see into the future, they would have known that the title wasn’t only in reach, it was almost secured.

“We did the math at the end of the year to see where I could have stopped and still won the award,” Erika explains. “At the end of July, I could have quit showing and still won.”

“She’s done fabulously,” Linda says. “She’s had smooth sailing all along really.”

Linda and Jim have developed Erika into a confident competitor who’s not afraid to lead the way.  

“She likes to go first if she can,” Linda says. “She always volunteers to go first. She’s done that since she was little. She’s really secure in what she’s doing. She’ll step right up and go first if they need someone to go. It would be great if every kid was that good.”

Erika’s passion for horses is taking her from her hometown of Hickory, Pennsylvania, to Waco, Texas, in the fall, where she’ll be part of the Baylor University women’s equestrian team.

“She moved way up in the horsemanship this year, and she got a scholarship to Baylor,” Linda says.

Baylor is part of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association, and Erika will be riding for Cindy Walquist, Baylor’s western coach. Erika plans to enroll in the Baylor nursing program.

“We went and visited this fall, and I really liked it there,” Erika says. “Cindy Walquist is awesome.”

The award-winning year or her entire show career wouldn’t have been possible without her parents, Vickie and James Rodenski.

“My parents have been big supporters in everything,” Erika says.

She’s also appreciative of her horse show family.

“I’ve been riding with Jim and Linda since I was 8,” Erika adds. “They’ve done a lot. They have shaped me into the rider that I am.”

She’s also thankful for Angela Gay and Patty Vatterott for selling her Good Time To Win, “because that was a big portion” of winning the title. 

Erika has enjoyed the family time that showing horses has given her. She has been able to spend time with her younger brother, Victor, at shows. He doesn’t show horses but driving the golf carts is his favorite part of the shows.

Linda describes Erika and Winslow as best friends, and Erika agrees.

“I love him to death, but he’s a strange character.”

The 2012 AQHA all-around winners, as well as the year-end high-point champions, are featured in the April issue of The American Quarter Horse JournalRead the April digital Journal now for free.