2011 Youth World
by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Gillian Chant and Zippo Romeo were 16th in the go for the2011 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show trail finals August 10. They’d made it through a tough prelims round of 155 entries – the “shootout” brought 20 back for the finals.
“I was cautiously confident,” Gillian said. “I wanted to do really well, but I didn’t want to let my nerves get in the way after all the hard work we’d done to get to this point.”
It was Gillian’s third time to face a tough Tim Kimura pattern in the youth trail finals, and fourth Ford Youth World.
“The (finals) pattern was really tricky,” Gillian said. “It had a lot of elements in it that would be difficult for my horse and I. I knew he could do it really well, so I just wanted to stay out of the way and let him show off.
“It had a jog serpentine, a sidepass – I was really nervous in the sidepass, but we got through it – he really just carried me through. I couldn’t have asked for a better pattern.”
The scores were held until the placings were announced – a 226 earned Gillian the win.
“It’s completely shocking!” she told the Journal. “I never imagined I would ever do this well…. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and I just didn’t let my nerves get in the way like I have in years before. I’m completely in shock right now.”
She added: “Trail is my favorite class by far. … You could have the best horse in the world, but if you don’t know him really well and you aren’t in sync with him, you’ll have difficulty. Or, maybe your horse isn’t the best horse, but if you are in sync with him, you can get a really good pattern if you get your rhythm right and you work really hard.”
Her blaze-faced sorrel gelding has been her partner for six years: “I love him so much; he has the best personality. He really is my best friend. I wouldn’t sell him for the world; I love him so much.”
Originally from Canada, Gillian calls Abilene, Texas, home right now. She is headed to Athens, Georgia, this fall to ride with the University of Georgia varsity equestrian team. She has one more year of AQHYA eligibility left, so she might be back in 2012.
“I’d like to thank all the trainers who’ve worked with me,” Gillian added, “everyone who’s helped me get to this point. I really appreciate all their hard work, and I know I couldn’t get to this point without their help.”
She has got great advice for everyone aiming for their own Ford Youth World championship: “Never allow yourself to get down. Always think you can work hard and get to this point and have a great ride and you can win. Never let yourself get down; always believe in yourself.”
Gillian Chant of Abilene, Texas, and Zippo Romeo win the 2011 youth world championship in trail.