by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Ima Petite Classic and AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole
Every year, it seems that the group of horses in the finals for the senior western riding at the AQHA World Championship Show is historic. The lineup assembled November 21, 2013, was no different.
Here are some numbers:
Pretty neat, huh? It makes just making the class finals all that much more of a World Show accomplishment for the all-around professional horsemen and women competing in it. And makes it really cool to win it.
And AQHA Professional Horseman Charlie Cole really wanted a win for the big black 1999 gelding, Ima Petite Classic, aka “Kramer,” the 2012 senior western riding reserve world champion.
“That horse is a special horse,” Charlie told The American Quarter Horse Journal. “He’s a little challenging, but I feel like that horse and I have a really good bond. I really understand him. He’s not a secure horse so I’m always giving him confidence.
“I’ve won the go-round in the trail, the go-round in the western riding – but I’ve never had a finals ride where I thought, ‘That’s the ride that I wanted to have.’ When I was second last year, I left a lot on the table. I wanted it for him.”
Charlie and his business partner, AQHA Professional Horseman Jason Martin, own and operate Highpoint Performance Horses in Pilot Point, Texas. The barn had six horses in the finals. Charlie had Kramer and A Certain Vino for Lee Reeve of Garden City, Kansas, and Alexandra Chavez’ Only In Showbiz. Jason was on Heavenly Mac and Radically Fired Up for Knapp Quarter Horse Farms LC, and Joe and Karen Moran’s legendary western riding mare, Vital Signs Are Good, aka “Lucy.”
Ninth in the go, riding western riding pattern No. 1, Charlie knew he’d had a good ride on Kramer. But the scores were held until the placings were called. By the time they were down to the top three, Charlie and Jason were the last riders in the pen.
Jason scored a 231 to take third on Heavenly Mac. Charlie hugged Kramer when Jason and Lucy were called for the reserve with an incredible 239.5 – breaking their own World Show senior western riding record – a 239 – that they set in 2010.
Kramer had finally won his world championship by a half-point with a 240, setting a new World Show record.
(The Highpoint Performance Horses-trained Harley D Zip and Ali Papendick set the Jim Norick Arena western riding record, a 241, at the 2008 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.)
“It wasn’t about me at all,” Charlie said again. “That horse deserves to be a world champion … It’s my sixth year on him. I’ve worked hard to get there with him. The first year I showed him in western riding, I didn’t even make it through the finals course.
“… (We) had some issues that whole first year. I couldn’t get through trail or western riding because he’s a spooky horse. He worries and I always have to get him secure. I’m his security blanket. If I worry, he worries more. ...
“It’s been a long road but it’s been worth every bit of it with that horse.”
Charlie said that the western riding is one of if not the most challenging classes you’ll find at the World Show.
“Because you have to have a really good mover to be in the top; you have to have high-quality changes; and you have to be really accurate. It takes timing and precision – it takes so much. It takes the whole package: You can’t have just a good mover or a good changer. There’s a lot to it.”
He added: “That class is not as big as I’d probably like to see it, but it’s because it’s so tough. The top group is a really tough group. You know going in there that you can’t make a mistake and you’ve got to give it your all.”
It’s been a good World Show for the Highpoint Performance Horses barn, but Charlie confessed that he’s exhausted.
“I had one really hard day where I showed eight horses in one day in five different classes. I had to get through that day, and it’s been getting better and better each day.”
After the World Show, Kramer will go on vacation back home in Pilot Point, to a well-deserved turnout and wintergreen peppermints every time Charlie walks by.
“I keep him fit, but just enough,” Charlie said. “I don’t have to train on him a whole lot. He knows his job.”
In his more than 35 years training American Quarter Horses, Charlie has won 13 AQHA world championships. He estimates that he and Jason have trained horses that have earned more than 150, all divisions combined.
“I’m just grateful for all my clients,” Charlie said, “and particularly the Reeveses, who own Ima Petite Classic. It’s been a little bit of a bumpy road, but I always believed in him, and they believed in me and the horse. That’s what it’s all about – believing in them and working on them.”
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