August 6, 2013
By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
A super-hero showmanship routine
The first freestyle showmanship contest, which was sponsored by Tommy Sheets, drew big cheers and applause from an enthusiastic crowd August 6 at the 2013 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.
Many in the audience didn’t know what to expect, but the evening started with a bang when Brian Bausch, trick roper, gun twirler and trick rider, galloped into Jim Norick Arena at Oklahoma State Fair Park.
After Brian finished his show, he sent his trick horse out of the arena before joining the judging panel that also included AQHA stewards Clark Parker, Casey Devitt and Tracy Willis.
First up was Paige Wacker with Ima Moxie Man, who started by backing her horse halfway across the arena in perfect form, a feat that got the knowledgeable crowd screaming.
Many of the exhibitors included costumes and props in their musical routines. They showed off their horses’ skills by doing extreme changes of pace within the two allowed gaits, walk and trot, and by adding movements not normally seen in showmanship, such as bowing.
That last trick was shown by Kamiah McGrath, a 13-year-old whose routine to the Oak Ridge Boys' “Thank God for Kids” included costumed friends dressed as Big Bird, Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus.
“My mom thought of it because Youth World is all about the youth,” Kamiah said.
She began developing the routine two months ago and practiced daily with Secrets Until Dark, aka “Stevie.”
“We started working on our bowing in May,” she said.
After the results were announced and the contestants made their way out of the arena, a little girl ran into the alley, enchanted by the performance. She wanted a hug from Big Bird. She got one.