by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
The November 8 horsemanship finals pattern was once again a genuine rider’s chance to show off. As Daniel Carlson and Are You Charlie rode in first, the concourse in the Oklahoma State Fair Park Coliseum was lined with fellow finalists watching to see how he laid out the not-for-the-faint-of-heart pattern.
“It was really tough,” says Angela Fox of Little Elm, Texas. She and The Heat Seeker, aka “Bomber,” faced it third in the go.
With no markers – save one cone at the end marking the spot to stop and back up – two square turns at the lope, fast and slow circles, downward transitions and spins both directions, it asked a rider to have a well thought-out plan.
“The most challenging thing (for me) was to stay on that center line,” Angela continues. “There were lots of maneuvers that had to be done while staying straight on that center line. When you add speed … it just adds more difficulty.”
But Angela did have a plan, helped along by her trainers of 11 years, AQHA Professional Horseman John and Jill Briggs of Pilot Point, Texas.
“(Bomber) can be overpracticed, so we don’t usually do that,” Angela says. “I rely on John and Jill, my fabulous horse trainers, to tell me what they are thinking as far as how much work we should do before.
“This morning when I got here, we had a plan. We schooled in the arena last night; I slept in, and we came out (and had) three things we were going to do. We followed the plan and every once in a while, I’d try to deviate,” she laughs, “and they put me back on it.”
It worked. Facing a field of tough competitors, 16 of 61 who entered in the preliminaries, Angela won the world championship, earning the top spot from three of five judges. It is the pair’s first world championship.
“It’s amazing,” Angela says. “It’s everything I wanted it to be. I’ve literally been dreaming about it my whole life. I won the Paint World when I was a kid, but nothing this big.”
Angela bought Bomber from Ryan Reed, who raised him. Ryan won the 2001 showmanship world championship and the horsemanship reserve with Bomber’s dam, Pedo Little Princess by Pedo Jones.
“(Bomber is) amazing,” she says. “I’m so, so fortunate and so blessed to have him…. I didn’t get to go to (the All American Quarter Horse) Congress this year. We just thought, ‘You know what, it’s going to be better if I come here and my horse is fresh and we make a plan and stick to it.’”
Bomber had a challenging time around the 2010 Congress – he was in a trailer accident just prior to the show.
“I took it easy last year, we showed a lot this spring and summer, and we’ve been at home resting,” Angela says. “I like to put him first because he’s so good to me, and he’s such a good soul and honest horse that wants only to do the best.
“This year, when we got to the World Show we just thought, we’re going to do our best classes, take it easy and do what’s best for him and it worked out.”
Get up-to-date on AQHA showing news at www.aqha.com/showing.
Angela has the showmanship finals yet to go November 11.
“We’ve had a great year,” Angela says. “The World Show was my No. 1 goal, and I am so happy that I won it.”
The stands were full of people supporting Angela – her mother, friends and the Briggses.
“I really have to thank my husband, Adam, for supporting me and my showing,” she adds, “especially since he doesn’t ride himself. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive husband.”
With a first world championship, how is she going to celebrate?
“I don’t know!” Angela says. “John just looked at me and said, ‘Are we going to go celebrate?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, I was just trying to figure out what we were going to do in the class today!’ I haven’t thought about it, but we’re definitely going somewhere to celebrate, that’s for sure.”
Angela Fox and The Heat Seeker win the horsemanship at the 2011 AQHA World Champion Show on November 8. (Journal photo).