by Samantha EckertThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Jessica Johnson and Royality In Blue came to the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show in several events, but they were out to defend their title in the hunt seat equitation.
In a pattern with one sole cone, several lead changes and a hand gallop, 14 finalists tried to navigate the pattern to the best of their abilities. Five judges had to score the world’s top American Quarter Horses and equitation riders. Jessica and her horse, “Bentley,” won under three of the judges.
“That’s probably one of the more challenging patterns I’ve had to do with him in a long time,” Jessica says. “With all the different lead changes – it was a lot of pattern today. I was happy with him. He handled it really well.”
The rail work was even more grueling than the pattern. After several laps of cantering with no stirrups, from an extended canter, the riders had to break down to the posting trot and ride several more laps.
“The rail work took forever,” Jessica says. “They worked us for a long time. When they asked for the extended canter, ‘I was like what? Do I get in the two-point? Do I stay seated?’ I didn’t really know, so I looked around and everyone was seated, so I thought I ought to stay sitting down and ask for more canter.”
Finally after being excused to the line-up, the placings were announced, and Jessica and Bentley were the last ones standing in the arena…once again.
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Coming back to defend a title seems to be a theme with the pair. This will be the third year in a row that Jessica and Bentley have risen to the top of the world in amateur equitation.
“He was great,” Jessica says. This was the defending champion team’s first time back in the show pen since their win in 2010.
Jessica says she prepared for this World Show with a lot of time in the saddle and a lot of riding.
“He was really good in the (prelim), too,” Jessica says of Bentley, who is by Skys Blue Boy and out of Lady Luck’s Gambler (TB) by Native Uproar. “I was really happy with him. I don’t think there was anything I would have changed there either. He was really good.”
After defending their title as amateur hunt seat equitation world champions, Jessica and Bentley went straight to the equitation over fences finals and won there as well.
As of tomorrow, Jessica will no longer be competing in amateur events.
To say Jessica and Bentley ended their amateur career on a high note is an understatement. After a three-peat win in hunt seat equitation, with six total titles, and their third world championship in equitation over fences, the duo is retiring from amateur events.
Jessica Johnson of Pickerington, Ohio, and Royality In Blue win the 2011 amateur hunt seat equitation world championship. (Journal photo)