Rebecca Anderson of Gothenburg, Nebraska, and OK Shes Unzipped won the 2013 youth showmanship world championship. (Journal photo)
by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
The crowd was unusually loud when Rebecca Anderson of Gothenburg, Nebraska, and her 2004 mare, OK Shes Unzipped, finished their pattern, seventh in the go order for the showmanship finals at the 2013 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show.
They had performed it well, and Rebecca knew it walking out, patting “Invy’s” neck.
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But those in the crowd – especially parents Dan and Andra Anderson, sister Ebony, and brother Kiefer – knew it was even more amazing that she’d shown in the prelims at all, much less made the finals. Two weeks ago, Rebecca’s dream of competing looked finished.
“I’ve been with (trainers AQHA Professional Horseman) John and Jill Briggs for the summer,” Rebecca told The American Quarter Horse Journal. “And I went back home to go to a medical camp two weeks before the (Ford) Youth World.
“I was shadowing an anesthesiologist, and I was good in surgery, and I went to watch a different procedure where they had blocked a lady’s neck … and I got light-headed and passed out.”
Rebecca hit her head, fracturing her skull, and ended up with a brain bleed and in ICU for three days.
“Coming down here (to Oklahoma City), I didn’t think I was going to be able to show. I wasn’t able to trot; I wasn’t able to do anything. It’s a miracle to be here right now.”
Preparing for the August 6 showmanship finals, Rebecca, her parents, and the Briggses knew she “had to be very rested coming in to show.” She had 176 other entries to face in the August 5 prelims, which included a semi-finals round. Just making the prelims was amazing.
“This is my fifth (Ford Youth World),” she said. “I’ve been in the finals twice before, and been eighth and fourth. It was difficult last year; I actually pulled a pivot foot (and didn’t make the finals). Coming this year, I knew that this was it, and this was the moment.”
When all was said and done, Rebecca and Invy were the last pair standing at the Jim Norick Arena wall.
“Coming in, I knew I had to give it my all; this was it. This was the moment that I’d been dreaming of forever, and walking out with this gold trophy is something that I’m never, ever going to forget,” she said.
Rebecca thought highly of the challenge the judges offered the seasoned showmanship competitors, with both the prelims and finals patterns.
“To begin with, the prelims pattern was very different from this one,” Rebecca said. “It was very small and something that, at the (Ford) Youth World, we usually don’t have. It had like short stops and back short, things like that, … and then to have a large, unique pattern in the finals – it was so cool to see how diverse an exhibitor you can be, having to be able to do a small and a large pattern. I felt that this pattern was meant for me; it was perfect.
“My mare and I have been through so much and this pattern was perfect for us, we were able to walk and trot like that and show off what makes us. I absolutely loved it. I walked back out of the arena and was petting my horse because we had done a really good job.”
By Invitation Only and out of OK Unzip Me by Zippo Pine Bar, the Andersons bought Invy when she was 3. Rebecca says she “has that look.”
“She was being passed along by other trainers and rejected, and we just bought her,” Rebecca said. “We knew we had to build her up. Showmanship was her thing. This is where we pushed it and knew that this mare could do something. She has been the best; she is amazing and I love her to death. She knows when it’s time to show and she shows herself off. She’s just something else.”
Rebecca adds, “She’s a princess at home. She loves to be with you. She’s just a one-in-a-million kind of horse and she was meant for me.”
Rebecca says her family “is amazing” and John and Jill Briggs “are the best"; they are the reason she is holding a world championship trophy.
“(Showing in a barn like the Briggses) is fabulous, you meet such great people and you have relationships that will last forever. These people that I have met that I’ve fallen in love with are the best, and I have so many great memories with them.
Rested, celebrated and fully-healed, where will we see her next?
“That’s a good question; I don’t know,” she said with a smile. “We’ve been starting to ride her and work on things like that. I’m just living the moment right now.”
She paused and added: “I would just like to thank everyone who’s helped get this far right now. It’s been a roller-coaster ride and God has blessed me right now.”