AjPHA members might be young, but they proved they are mighty at the 2015 AjPHA Youth World Championship Show. Months of hard work came to fruition at the world’s premier Youth Paint Horse show, as young exhibitors from across North America demonstrated the deep connection they share with their colorful companions en route to world championship accolades.
The show crowned more than 80 world champions and more than $150,000 in scholarships was up for grabs during the 10-day competition, which took place June 27–July 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. Five fresh-faced equestriennes took away more than just the coveted titles, however; they rose to the top of their respective divisions to earn the Youth World Show’s all-around and high-point awards.
Read on to meet these five champions, and watch for complete coverage from the Youth World Show in the September 2015 Paint Horse Journal—subscribe, renew or extend your subscription online or by calling (817) 22-6430.
All-Around Youth 14–18 & High-Point English Youth
While last year’s High-Point English Youth title came as a bit of a shock to Alexis Sage Miller, it was squarely on her radar this year. Good rides aboard her longtime partner Thanks For Zip En Me in a variety of classes helped “Lexi” capture not only the High-Point English Youth title but also the coveted All-Around Youth 14-18 award, too.
“I wanted to go out with a bang and get a couple of buckles,” Lexi said. “I started thinking that winning the Youth 14-18 title would be nice too, but it wasn’t my main goal.”
Lexi made her presence known early and often at the Youth World Show, racking up a trio of over-fences world championships—Youth Hunter Hack, Youth Jumping and Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation Over Fences—along with an unexpected world championship in Youth Ranch Riding. That came along with Top Five finishes in Youth Working Hunter 14–18 and Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation 14–18, and a Top 10 in Youth Working Hunter 14–18.
“I just went out and had fun with it, and we ended up doing really well,” she said.
All in all, Lexi and “Winston”—a homebred 2006 sorrel overo gelding by Thanks For Com En and out of Zippin In Charisma—captured a total of 140 points in the All-Around Youth 14–18 race, 116 of which counted toward the High-Point English Youth title. Solid rides helped the young horsewoman from Eaton, Colorado, top the lists by more than 20 points in the Youth 14–18 division and in excess of 40 points in the High-Point English Youth title race.
All-Around Novice Youth
For Veronica John of Winfield, Pennsylvania, simply competing at the 2015 AjPHA Youth World Championship Show was defying the odds. Veronica suffered a serious knee injury this spring that required surgery, and the young horsewoman was told she’d likely be out of the show ring for a year. Teaming up with her steady show partner Pour Me A Cuervo, however, Veronica climbed back in the saddle sooner than expected and headed to Fort Worth.
At the premier Youth Paint Horse show, Veronica and “Jose” laid down stellar performances, ultimately capturing the All-Around Novice Youth award. The duo won world championships in Novice Youth Showmanship 14–18 and Novice Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation14–18, as well as another in Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation 14–18. They also laid claim to a reserve world championship in Novice Youth Hunter Under Saddle 14–18, third in Novice Youth Western Pleasure 14–18 and fourth in Novice Youth Western Horsemanship 14–18.
Veronica took advantage of APHA’s new show lease program to take over the ride on Jose, a 2007 red roan overo gelding by High Country Pleasure and out of Guilty Intentions.
“He’s been an angel. I can’t really ask for much more from him,” Veronica said. “We get along really well for being such a new team.”
All-Around Youth 13 & Under
Twelve-year-old Lauren Gralla of Norman, Oklahoma, was no stranger to the winner’s circle at this year’s AjPHA Youth World Championship Show. The young equestrienne and her 2004 chestnut overo gelding A Sudden Legacy walked away with four world championships, three reserves and the title of All-Around Youth 13 & Under.
“I couldn’t have imagined the show going any better,” Tonya Gralla, Lauren’s mother, said. “It has felt like a dream.”
Lauren’s family leased “Cheeks” earlier this year, and the duo has been tough to beat. Cheeks is by A Sudden Legacy (QH) and out of Zippos Satin N Lace.
At the Youth World Show, Lauren and “Cheeks” won world championships in Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation 13 & Under, Youth Showmanship 13 & Under and Youth Hunter Under Saddle 13 & Under, along with reserve world championship in Youth Western Riding 13 & Under and Youth Trail 13 & Under to capture the All-Around Youth 13 & Under title. The pair also won a world championship in Novice Youth 13 & Under Hunt-Seat Equitation and a reserve in Novice Youth Western Riding.
“Cheeks is so smart,” Lauren said. “He’s like a human. He is great at pattern classes because he gets to show off his abilities.”
High-Point Western Youth & High-Point Power Performance
It hasn’t always been an easy ride for Catlyn Ward and Frito Pie, but the struggles make the successes sweeter for the fast-riding pair. That certainly was the case for the duo from Miles, Texas, at the AjPHA Youth World Championship Show.
“Last year was really rough. My goat got up, and a bunch of my classes didn’t go smoothly,” Catlyn said.
When things go well, though, they go very well. Getting their timing just right, Catlyn and “Roxie”—her 1998 sorrel overo mare by Colonels PR Legacy and out of Aprils Jan Olena (QH)—sped to the top of three speed event classes.
“This year felt great,” Catlyn said. “I’ve wanted to win [the high-point awards] for a long time.”
Together Catlyn and Roxie picked up world championships in Youth Goat Tying 14–18, Youth Stake Race 14–18 and Youth Breakaway Roping 18 & Under to clinch the Power Performance lead by 15 points. Their success was enough to catapult them ahead of the race for the Youth Western High-Point award, a lead they snagged and never relinquished.
After a hind-leg injury sidelined her longtime show partner, Taylor Ellor of Krum, Texas, found a new friend in Sonny Dee Zippin. Taking advantage of APHA’s show lease program, Taylor was able to lease the decorated show horse and fulfill her plans to compete at the Youth World Show. Their connection must have been kismet, as rider and horse quickly transformed into a team to be reckoned with at the premier Youth show.
Taylor and “Jake,” a 1996 sorrel overo gelding by Zippin Robin and out of Miss Sonny Dee, scored Top Five placings in five out of six classes, including a unanimous win in Youth Walk-Trot Showmanship.
“My pattern was good. Jake never stepped out of his pivots, and he set up really well; he pretty much did everything I asked,” Taylor said. “I actually thought Harper [Smith], who rides at my barn too, would beat me because she’s been riding for a really long time. When I found out I won under all judges, I got really excited.”
Together, Taylor and Jake won world championships in Youth Walk-Trot Showmanship and Youth Walk-Trot Western Horsemanship; a reserve world championship in Youth Walk-Trot Trail; third in Youth Walk-Trot Hunter Under Saddle; and fourth in Youth Walk-Trot Hunt-Seat Equitation.
More news and results can be found on the AjPHA Youth World Show homepage, and in the September 2015 Paint Horse Journal.
[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.]
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.