The Farnam Hunter Under Saddle Stakes—one of the headline events at the APHA World Championship Show, with more than $26,000 on the line—showcases some of APHA’s most talented young hunter horses.This year, mother-daughter connections took center stage in the pair of premier Farnam classes, leaving two well-deserved horse-and-rider pairs in the limelight when the dust settled over the John Justin Arena on September 22.
Farnam 2-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes
All Ways Lazy trotted into the John Justin Arena with an air of confidence, just like his champion namesake, the University of Connecticut. But to those that know the plucky 2015 sorrel overo gelding, “UConn’s” ultimate victory in the Farnam 2-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes with Erin Fick was more like a Cinderella story than a shoo-in.
“Two weeks ago, I didn’t even know if he was coming to Texas with us,” Erin said, who lives in Ocala, Florida. “The night before Hurricane Irma, we were cooking dinner and we heard thrashing. He got stuck upside down in his stall—it literally made my stomach drop when I heard Scott [Thomas] say, ‘He’s cast.’ He needed 27 stitches and 10 days of stall rest. We just started riding him again this week.”
After tending to their horse’s emergency and then hunkering down to ride out Irma—luckily, their farm just sustained flooding, loss of power and a few downed trees—Erin and Scott picked up their heads to evaluate the situation, ultimately heeding advice from Erin’s mother Lyn—UConn’s owner—to roll the dice and haul the gelding to Texas.
With his stitches removed, UConn was feeling fresh when Erin first saddled him up in Fort Worth. He settled down after two days of taking in the sights and sounds of his first World Show, but Erin still wasn’t convinced if he’d make it to the pen for show time. But that all changed the morning of the class.
“Last night, I didn’t think we were going to show,” she said. “But I rode him this morning really early in the paid practice, and I was like ‘we’re showing.’ ”
UConn, like his famous namesake, was “on” and ready to show. The feeling continued as they trotted under the bright lights in the center of the pen, and then as they went through their paces on the rail.
“Scott kept whistling. When I hear whistles, I know it’s good; when it’s silent, I get a little concerned,” Erin said.
Yet Erin was shocked to hear her name called out as the class’ limited and overall champion, and says earning the win aboard a horse bred and raised by her family makes it even more special. For her efforts, Erin is taking home more than $9,200—a fitting conclusion to UConn’s Cinderella story.
“I was just so happy I started laughing,” she said, stroking UConn’s neck; the gelding is by Lopin Lazy and out of Its All Fancy. “The money’s great, but after everything we’ve been through in the last three weeks, just getting here is a win.”
Coming in second overall was Allocated, a 2015 bay overo mare by Allocate Your Assets (QH) and out of In Good Company; Shane Christensen piloted the mare to the reserve championship and $4,963 for owner Sarah Baker of Enid, Oklahoma. Third was Megan Gilmore and Good To Be Best, a 2015 bay overo mare by The Best Machine and out of Good To Be Fancy; they picked up $2,836 for owner Lisa Stoner of Custer, Washington. Second in the limited division and fourth overall was JS Heaven Sent, a 2015 bay tovero mare by John Simon and out of My Poor Zip; owned and shown by Denise Vick of Taylorsville, North Carolina, the duo earned an $1,890 payout in the limited portion of the class.
Farnam Non-Pro 3- & 4-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes
Back at the World Show to defend his Farnam crown—Want Me Dont Cha won the 2-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes in 2016—“Justin” didn’t disappoint as he carried a new rider to the championship and a share of a class purse in excess of $7,000. In the irons for the Farnam Non-Pro 3- & 4-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle Stakes was Therese Ketchum, mother of Justin’s owner, Brooke.
“I love to ride hunters, but I haven’t shown in a long time,” Therese said. “He’s quiet enough that we decided I would show him this year and next year. He’s a really nice horse.”
Well-prepared by trainers Wade and Laura Spell, Justin continued his winning ways and floated to the top of the judges’ cards. In the stands, Brooke was extra-nervous at the prospect of watching her mother show, but the butterflies vanished when she saw Therese trot Justin into the pen.
“I just wanted her to do well. Once she got going, I wasn’t nervous anymore.,” Brooke said.
Therese stayed true to her game plan—to sit straight in her saddle and help Justin perform his best—to clinch the championship and a check worth $3,177. Bred by Dan and Jan Mannion of Wilton, California, the 2014 chestnut overo gelding is by The Gift Of Midas and out of Miss Shadow Page.
Second place, Its Swing Time and Devan Knipfer of Deerfield, Wisconsin, took home $2471. The 2013 sorrel overo mare is by All Time Fancy and out of Luvs To Zip.
Coming in third, Taylor Burgess of Horseheads, New York, and One Good Cowboy netted $1,412. The 2014 sorrel overo gelding by CR Good Machine and out of Onesensationalcowgirl was bred by Anita Veldman of South Bend, Indiana.
[Reprinting all or part of this news release is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provided back to apha.com.]
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