by Samantha EckertThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Lainie Deboer and Larks Big Leaguer are crowned the 2011 AQHA world champions of senior working hunter. (Journal photo)
AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie Deboer of Hugo, Minnesota, can’t complain about winning two AQHA world championships in a row November 12.
“It’s surreal,” Lainie says. “It’s just awesome. It still hasn’t sunk in. It will soon. But I’m just thrilled.”
After winning junior working hunter with Only Royal Blue, Lainie came back into the senior working hunter finals with Larks Big Leaguer.
“He is such a cool horse,” Lainie says. “His name is ‘Kermit.’ And I actually have his full brother in the barn, Larks Happy Days -- he’s been amazing to us. Kermit is just so special. He’s so easy.
“He’s a Rugged Lark and he’s kind of one of the last ones. Carol Harris is a really good friend of mine, and this is uber-special that I could do this and have this opportunity to do this for her. She’s been a 50-year breeder of (American Quarter Horses). I felt completely honored to ride this cool horse.”
Kermit is out of Emma Big Leaguer by Im A Big Leaguer. This is the first world championship title for Kermit. He came to the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show qualified in five events. He and his owner, Kelsea Hull of Ligonier, Indiana, won the reserve world championship in amateur hunter hack, and they were finalists in equitation over fences.
“He’s amazing,” Lainie says. “He is every great quality that Rugged Lark was. He is the carbon copy. He’s just so much like him.”
Lainie and Kermit floated through the course, navigating it a little differently than the others.
“He’s not a big horse,” Lainie says. “He’s a little under 16 hands. I have to kind of skedaddle a little bit around the course. I have to carry a little bit of a hand gallop. I think that’s what makes him brilliant. I just kind of picked up my canter, and it’s just easier if I kind of hook in the distance early to keep following him. He just locks in and really does all the work.
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“I really just steer him, stay out of his way, and just hold on. And I get to smile at the end of the course. He’s just a phenomenal horse, always has been.”
After coming out of the Jim Norick arena, Lainie and Kermit were swarmed with friends giving them hugs, kisses and congratulatory pats on the back. Lainie joked that after a day like today she needed to retire. Winning two world championship is a challenge and a honor.
“It’s such an honor,” Lainie says. “It’s such a validation of consistency, which has always been my key. I work really hard and it’s just so cool that I could do it two time in a row.”
Although Lainie has been working hard for these world titles, she also attributes some of her wins to luck being on her side tonight.
“The stars are aligned,” Lainie says. “It’s my lucky day. I can’t complain.”