World champion halter trainer Jerm Christensen of West Point, Utah, knows his way around the end of a lead shank, primping and presenting his Paint Horses to bring out their best qualities in the arena. But he’s no one-trick pony. At the 2016 APHA World Championship Show, Jerm saddled up RHK Ultimate Partier on November 2 and took a spin in the Ranch Riding Sweepstakes class.
Originally pointed toward a Western pleasure career, the 2012 chestnut overo stallion, nicknamed “Zippy,” has found his calling in the ranch pen. Jerm showed all-around horses as a Youth and trained pleasure horses years ago, so it was a win-win when the opportunity to show in the ranch riding classes presented itself.
“My daughter, Gracie, started showing in the ranch stuff and we were having so much fun getting her going in it, I decided I needed a ranch horse, too. It was fun learning the patterns with her and all the different maneuvers,” he said. “Now, I’ve got three more ranch horses at home.”
While his World Show class didn’t quite go as planned, Jerm was proud of the way his young mount handled the bright lights of the World Show in only his fourth ranch riding performance; Zippy is owned by Ronda Huffman of Gunnison, Colorado. Jerm’s looking forward to competing in the World Show’s Ranch Trail Sweepstakes, as well as his usual roster of halter classes.
Though something of a polar opposite when compared to preparing halter horses, ranch riding has opened up the doors of APHA competition to more horses and exhibitors, Jerm says.
“I like the ‘come as you are’ part, and I like the diversity,” he said. “It gives you somewhere to go with those older halter horses or ones that maybe won’t make it as a halter horse. Any horse can go do this: it’s about how broke they are. With halter or pleasure horses, you can only do so much; in the ranch stuff, anybody can do it. With hard work, you can get it done.”
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The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.