by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Jessica Johnson and Royality In Blue win the 2011 amateur equitation over fences world championship. (Journal photo)
Jessica Johnson closed one part of her life triumphantly November 11 as she sets out on a new journey.
The 2011 AQHA World Championship Show will be Jessica’s last as an amateur competitor, and she finished that part of her life by earning gold trophies in the classes that are only for amateurs: equitation over fences and hunt seat equitation.
“This win is my last one as an amateur,” she says. “As of tomorrow, I turn pro.”
Her final amateur ride was with her longtime equine partner, Royality In Blue, the 1998 black gelding on whom she won the Farnam All-Around Amateur award in 2009. Jessica and “Bentley” have earned numerous world championships and reserve world championships together from the time Jessica was a youth. Their most recent world championship was in 2010 in hunt seat equitation, a title that earned them an automatic invitation to the World Show.
“I could not have asked for any more (in equitation over fences),” she says. “My horse was amazing today. I was so happy with him. It’s the first time I’ve shown him since here last year. First show back – I was really happy with him. He did not like being left home all summer. When he got here, he was very happy.”
The Mike Christian-designed equitation course included some tricky bending lines, among other challenges for the riders.
“For me, (the hardest part was) probably the second rollback,” she says. “That’s a little bit tougher for him off that lead, so it was keeping him straight and getting him to the jump.”
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On November 12, Jessica will make her pro debut in junior hunter hack. After the World Show, the Pickerington, Ohio, resident will return home.
“I’m going to be training on our farm in Ohio and working with (AQHA Professional Horseman) Lainie (DeBoer) some,” she says.