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Journal at the World

November 16, 2013

Amateur Week Wrap-Up

The Journal staff's picks of some of the highlights of the 2013 Bank of America Amateur Week.

By Becky Newell
The American Quarter Horse Journal

Nicole Barnes and The Perfect Kryme

Nicole Barnes and The Perfect Kryme

My job at the 2013 AQHA World Show is to download and process the thousands of photos shot by the staff of The American Quarter Horse Journal and to also run the video camera for most of the interviews that the staff conducts with the world champions. This gives me the exclusive chance to see the complete “thrill of victory” and the agony of … well … “we’ll do better next year.”

As the Journal staff talked through the highlights of the Bank of America Amateur Week Friday night, we noticed that really the only time the competitors shed tears of joy is when they talk about the horse – or how they acquired the horse – that carried them to a world championship, proving once again that it’s all about the horse.

In our amateur week debriefing, we also realized just how many amateur exhibitors had won their first AQHA World Show gold trophy. That included Jennifer Arnold, who after being encouraged by amateur barrel racer Johnna Dobbs to compete at the AQHA World Show, not only won the amateur barrel racing, but did so on her very first World Show trip.

Here are some other stories from amateur week:

  • Shannon Brown, a dental hygienist from Cameron Park, California, took home a world championship in showmanship with Huntin A Gal. “I taught him showmanship by myself, and when I first started, he was really difficult to teach,” she said. “But I stuck with it and worked really hard. I kept telling my mom (Jan), ‘I see a lot of talent in him, I’m going to keep working with him,’ and here we are.”
  • Amanda Wallinger-Rowan earned her first AQHA world championship on November 15, leading Hey Coach to the win in amateur weanling colts. Amanda's family has been in the halter industry “for 10-plus years,” and are “really excited” for their first world championship. “My mom showed me how to show halter … I started showing in Nebraska and South Dakota,” Amanda said.
  • Ashley Lembke wanted to go down the fence. More than anything else, the Texas Tech University graduate wanted to get on her cow horse, push a cow down the fence and feel the rush as her horse turned into the cow and sent her back the other direction. But when Ashley won her first world championship, it wasn’t by going down the fence. On November 15, Ashley and Sir Rey Of Oak were named world champions in amateur working cow horse, with a dynamic cow work that included two field turns, unassisted by the fence, before they circled their cow up tight.
  • Call it coincidence, God’s grace or the lasting spirit of a good horse, but Nicole Barnes crossed paths with her late show partner, Zippos Ace Of Spades, during amateur week. In the rush of prepping for the show, Nicole misplaced her back numbers. Digging through her tackroom, she actually found back numbers from previous AQHA World Shows, one of which happened to match this year’s back number. It was the same number she and “Ace” wore when she won the all-around amateur award in 2008. After checking with the show office, they made a quick copy in time for Nicole and her new horse, The Perfect Kryme, to make the showmanship finals; they placed third in the class.
  • First in the go for the November 11 amateur trail finals, Peyton Bivins of Amarillo was shaking coming down the alleyway, under the Gateway of Champions into the Jim Norick Arena. On her longtime partner, 2001 gelding Dress In Gold, aka “Ollie,” Peyton was most concerned about the back-through, the third obstacle in the Tim Kimura pattern – a figure 8 around cones: “He’s really good at it, but I kind of mess him up,” she said. So in the wee hours of the morning before the class, they worked all the obstacles. Practice must make perfect because Peyton and Ollie took home the gold trophy.
  • November 14 was a busy day for Jeff Habighorst. He had four to show in halter classes. He ended up third in amateur yearling geldings with Be A Gunslinger and in 3-year-old geldings with Boys N Toys, and fifth in 3-year-old fillies with Best To Be Me. But then he won his first world championship with amateur weanling gelding Coolsified Secret.
  • Stephanie Richardson of Wilsonville, Oregon, won her first AQHA world championship – in amateur horsemanship – with her homebred Kickin Axe In Levis. The finals horsemanship pattern, a long, demanding one, asked for both flying and simple lead changes, and extensions of all the gaits. On the rail, Stephanie mentally examined each part of her form, going down through all her body parts to stay straight in the saddle. “And then you go through the checklist again,” she said.
  • Ike Cadillac Cash has found his niche, and it’s not as the roping horse he was bred to be. On November 10, the 1993 buckskin gelding showed off his jumping ability as he carried owner Charlie Carrel to the world championship in open jumping. He was bred by AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder Will Gill and Sons of Madera, California. A Red Bird, another horse that Charlie rode in open jumping, was bred by Burnett Ranches, another AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.
  • Johnna Dobbs of Jonesboro, Arkansas, intended Bars Sweet Legacy for her 9-year-old daughter, Dylan. The oldest horse in the senior barrel racing finals November 9, “Tink” and Chad Crider won the class without a problem. Johnna got a gold trophy and buckle, and, well, Dylan will get Tink back next year.
  • For the first time since 1981, a woman took home the gold trophy in amateur heeling. Marsha Vine of Deerfield, Wisconsin, was riding her trustworthy 2000 bay gelding, Gustafus James. She acquired Gus in 2007 in an unusual way that still brings tears to her eyes. “When I got Gus, it was a surprise,” she said. “J.D. sent the papers to AQHA and had him transferred into my name and sent back to him. The papers were given to me in a card. It’s been a special trip the whole time. The Yateses are very great people.”

This week, world championships were awarded for the first time in amateur ranch horse pleasure, as well as amateur stake race.

And then, there’s the 2013 Farnam All-Around Award. Within a span of 24 hours, amateur Meghan O’Malley won three gold trophies, one of which was in a class she considers more of a “warm-up class” for her and A Chanceof Blueskies, her 2002 buckskin mare. Those three gold trophies suddenly vaulted the Meghan and “Lucy” into the Farnam All-Around Amateur race, an award that wasn’t even on the radar for Meghan, whose mother claims that random babies, her daughter included, are selected by a fairy to become horse crazy.