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November 6-21, 2015, Oklahoma City

Amateur Western Horsemanship

Whitney Walquist-Vicars wins with a special homebred gelding.

When Whitney Walquist-Vicars started showing American Quarter Horses, Ms Southern Border was her trainer.

Sure, Whitney has two parents who are horse trainers, but she learned a lot about showing, life and ring partnerships from the mare.

On November 6, Whitney came full circle as she rode a 2006 son of Ms Southern Border to a world championship in horsemanship at the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show.

Aboard Southwestern Gunman, Whitney claimed her second horsemanship title.

“That’s one of the things that makes this the most special to me,” she said in her exclusive Journal Winning Run interview. “He was out of my very first show mare. We had to put her down this summer, so I’m really happy to make her a world champion producer, because she took such good care of me when I was a little kid and taught me how to show. He’s just an amazing horse. To have him out of her is just incredible. Such a blessing.”

“Gunner” is a 2006 bay gelding by Dress Western and out of Ms Southern Border by Sonny South Two. Whitney was world champion in amateur horsemanship in 2010 and world champion in showmanship in 2009 with Dress This, also a son of Dress Western.

To get to the world championship trophy in 2012, the breeder-owner-exhibitor had to negotiate a lengthy pattern on her horse.

“It called for loping on the left lead, showing an increase of speed down the line, square corner, change leads in the center of that line, another square corner at the counter-canter, change leads halfway down to the middle, square corner into the center, jog a slow, small circle back to the center, jog a large, extended trot circle, stop, one 360 to the right, one and a half 360 to the left, lope left lead, square corner to the left, at the end, stop and back,” she recited.

“For me, probably the lead changes (were the tricky part),” she said. “My horse is a little bit greener on the lead changes, and we struggled with those a little bit in practice, but they worked out great in the arena for me tonight, so thank goodness, thank the Lord.”

“Gunner is green but willing,” she said.

“He really has a lot of heart, and I feel like he and I really connect well,” Whitney said. “I felt like we had a special bond right from the beginning when we started showing together last year. He just tries for me. He loves to show. His mom was a great show horse. She knew her job, and he knows his job and he likes to do it.”

In addition to the complicated pattern, the 15 horsemanship finalists were asked to ride all three gaits without stirrups on one round of the arena during the rail work.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Whitney said of the extended test. “He’s really pretty smooth to ride, and we’ve practiced that a lot, so it wasn’t too bad.”

Whitney wanted to thank a lot of people for helping her succeed.

“I just have to first and foremost thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Without him, none of this would be possible, and he continues to bless me over and over. I’m amazed every day,” she said. “My family, they support me so much, my mom and my dad. My mom and my dad (Cindy and Bruce) are horse trainers, and my dad has just helped me so much. He has taught me everything I know, and it is so special to be able to do this with them and to accomplish these dreams together. And my husband, (Craig), who’s always there for anything I need, any time I need a shoulder to cry on or if I’m frustrated about something, he’s always there to help me.

“Then friends and family back home. The judges. AQHA for the wonderful award they give here and just the opportunity to be here and compete.”
Southwestern Gunman and Whitney Walquist-Vicars

Whitney Walquist-Vicars and Southwestern Gunman