John East and Colonel C Lovey take the amateur heading championship home with a score of 228. Journal photo.
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by Samantha EckertThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Who knew that a one-time wedding gift would turn into John East’s ride to his first AQHA world championship?
“She’s a mare that my father-in-law gave my wife and I when we got married as a wedding present,” says the horseman from Linn, Texas. “We just used her on the ranch for a couple of years, just enjoyed her and everything.
“But, we sent her up to (AQHA Professional Horseman) Jess (Elrod) a few years ago and he’s done real well on her.”
In the amateur dally team roping-heading, a little sorrel wedding gift, foaled in 2000, by Colonel Clout and out of Colonel Sassy Frass by Colonel Freckles, carried John into the finals sitting in second place.
The intermediate duo was up against some stiff competition including Ticket To Starfire, 2006 junior heading world champion, Probably Got It All, 2010 reserve junior header, and last year’s champion, Apache Blue Boy.
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But with a total score of 228, John and his little mare were crowned the 2011 AQHA world champions in amateur heading.
“It’s awesome,” John says, “It was a lot of fun.”
Jess Elrod of Sanger, Texas, won the senior heading with John’s mare in 2009 and was third on her in 2010. But John hasn’t ever placed in the top 10 at a World Show before.
“It’s just a neat deal,” John says. “It’s different than just winning a jackpot or a little rodeo or something. It’s just a little different deal, I can’t explain it. It’s a good feeling. I like it.”
AQHA Professional Horseman Steve Orth of Purcell, Oklahoma, heeled for John in the finals.
“I just have to thank the guys that helped me through it, like my trainer, Jess Elrod, Steve Orth, and I’ve just got a really good horse. It all just worked out.”