2011 Youth World
by Holly ClanahanThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Miller Henard, who won the 2009 youth world championship in jumping aboard Twothousand Model Te, passed the horse down to her sister, Billie, last year, and dad Morris describes the handoff as a “train wreck,” complete with tears and frustrations as the new partnership took some time to gel. “I would say, ‘Just keep going, you’ll get it. It’ll come together for you,’ ” Dad coached. Fifteen-year-old Billie was willing to put in the effort, keeping the horse at home and riding him five days a week, weather permitting, and working with trainer Michele Thompson. “I’ve ridden him almost every single day for the past two months, just working him hard, building muscle, and showing a lot. I showed a lot this year. … As I rode him more, he was like, ‘OK, it’s a new rider,’ so we got more of a deeper, personal relationship that way,” she told the Journal.The payoff was a gold trophy, as Billie and “Dudley” won the 24-entry jumping class at the 2011 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show on August 10. It was quite an effort for Billie’s first Ford Youth World. “He has been perfect,” she said of her horse. But rookie nerves still took hold.
“The prelims after almost every class, I felt like I was going to puke. But as the week went on, it got a lot better, and I got more confident in myself and him. There was a lot of trust when we went in there.”She had a clean first round in the jumping finals and then turned in a blazing time of :33.757 in the jump-off, sealing the win. In her pre-ride pep talk, Morris told her, “You’re going to have to make those turns that you talked about, you’re going to have to do what you practiced. Stay the course, and you’ll win. I said, ‘Are you ready?’ and she said, ‘I’m ready.’ … I knew the competition was stiff, and I knew she’d have to turn and burn.” Billie’s mom, Francie, said those pep talks are standard for Morris.
“Mom sits in the stands and videos and writes everything down, and Dad’s out here doing the pep talk,” she said. “We’ve got a team.” Billie also placed sixth in equitation over fences with Dudley and 11th in working hunter. On August 11, she is scheduled to compete in the finals of hunter hack. “It’s a special horse that can do all of that,” Morris said. “To calm down after a jumpers course and do a hack class is pretty unusual.”Billie agrees. “He’s quite a character. That’s what makes him him. He’s very social. He likes our family. He’ll want to love on you and give you love bites and wiggle his nose on you.”But that’s not to say that he’s an easy ride. “He’s a different horse every day, pretty much. Some days, you can just put your inside leg on him and he’ll be perfect, and other days you’ve got to pick him up and you’ve got to really ride him,” Billie said. Francie said, “He’ll spook at the funniest things. One show, there was just lawn chairs, and they had been there two days, and he went around and went ‘Oh! There’s lawn chairs there!’ and blew the whole class. So you always have to ride him because you never know what he’s going to do. But he’s really a versatile horse.” So a horse that can be unpredictable some days, the first trip to a world show … what kind of advice did Morris have to deal with those intimidating variables? “My dad always said that it’s just another horse show. Just ride the ride and enjoy what you’re doing and don’t think about all the people that are watching. Just do what you love,” Billie said. And she did.
Billie Henard of Kingsport, Tennessee, claims the jumping world championship August 10. (Journal photo)