In the Spotlight

After raising two horse-crazy kids and surviving a battle with cancer, it’s Rose Holt’s turn in the AQHA show pen.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal
June 3, 2013

2013 AQHA Region Ten Championship

Wearing a bright blue shirt that matched the mood of her brilliant smile, Rose showed her 2008 chestnut gelding, Gotta Good Secret, in aged geldings on May 19 at the 2013 AQHA Region Ten Championship. (Journal photo)

When you are a cancer survivor, “it sort of gives you a different perspective,” says AQHA Select exhibitor Rose Holt, 61, of Edgefield, South Carolina.

The Journal met Rose in the warm-up pen at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida, during the 2013 AQHA Region Ten Championship Show. Wearing a bright blue shirt that matched the mood of her pleasant smile, Rose was getting ready to show her 2008 chestnut gelding, Gotta Good Secret, in aged geldings on May 19.

It’s been about two years since Rose battled cancer and made it through a double mastectomy and lymphectomy, with her husband, Richard, by her side.

“I used to be a horse show mom,” she said, proudly. For more than 10 years, she hauled her son, Eric, and daughter, Heather, to shows – Eric in cuttings and Heather in all-around events. Then both kids went to college; Eric is now a mechanical engineer, and Heather is a pharmacist.

“And then we had horses just standing around,” Rose said, laughing, “for more than five years!”

And then there was the cancer.

“I said, ‘You know what? I always wanted to show horses!’” Rose recalled. “So my husband bought me my first Quarter Horse. And I started into it!” She laughed and added, “It was a Christmas present, New Year’s present, anniversary present, all combined.”

Gotta Good Secret is by I Gotta Cool Secret and out of Sports Dream Girl by Ecco Sporty Lad, bred by Barbara Hockenberry of Clear Spring, Maryland. He has earned his open and amateur Registers of Merit, and qualified for multiple AQHA world shows three years in a row, ending up a finalist in youth aged geldings in 2012. Rose put another amateur ROM on him this year.

“He’s gorgeous,” she said, in a gentle southern accent. “He really is. And I love him. He is so quiet!”

Rose keeps Gotta Good Secret with trainer Todd Ready of Todd Ready Performance Horses in Aiken, South Carolina. When Todd suggested hauling to the Region Ten Championship and the coinciding AQHA-pointed show, Rose was all for it – she wanted to get qualified for the Nutrena AQHA East Novice Championship Show, October 1-6 in Murfreesboro, Tennnessee.

“I just started showing in halter six months ago,” she said. “He has been winning some. I’m just here to enjoy it. It’s just wonderful.”

Richard is retired from Medical College of Georgia where he used to teach, Rose said. He now owns a nursery business and raises daylilies. Rose helps with that and with her 81-year-old mother. On their farm they have four Quarter Horses, one pony and two goats.  

“We have four grandchildren, and they’re all horse crazy, too!” she added.

When the Region Ten came up, “(Richard) said, ‘Go for it, Hon,’ ” Rose recalled. “And then he said, ‘Just don’t come home with another horse!’

“I laughed and said, OK, I won’t. This one’s enough,” and she gave the big gelding an affectionate pat.

Enough indeed – the two are now qualified for both the Nutrena East Novice Championship and the Adequan Select World Championship shows. Rose said we’ll see her for sure at the first, and she’s thinking hard about the second, too.

The American Quarter Horse Journal loves to feature the hard-working AQHA exhibitor, and In the Spotlight is the Journal’s fun new way to do so. Do you know a hard-working AQHA competitor who deserves some time in the limelight? Email AQHA Internet Editor Tara Matsler at tmatsler@aqha.org to submit story ideas, then visit www.aqha.com/inthespotlight to view more In the Spotlight stories.