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Youth World Show Classes carry on legendary legacies of past horses


Some horses leave such an impact throughout their show careers that their names are stamped in the history books and hearts of the horse community forever. When great ones die, the industry mourns—fans are left wondering if there will ever be another horse like them. Two such Paint mares were Elegant April and Pretty Versital, but their legendary performances live on through two memorial awards presented annually at the AjPHA Youth World Championship Show.

Elegant April Memorial Award

Jennifer Chan knew Elegant April was destined for greatness. “Ellie” was the kind of mare you didn’t ride; she let you ride her. Her quirky personality was worth it, Jennifer says, as the mare set records throughout her career.

At the 1998 Youth World Show, Jennifer and Ellie accomplished a monumental feat: winning world championships in Youth Hunter Under Saddle 14–18, Youth Hunter Hack 14–18 and Youth Working Hunter 14–18. In five years, Ellie won 10 world championships and five reserve world championships in APHA’s Youth, Amateur and Open divisions.

Ellie died in 2003, and to commemorate her once-in-a-lifetime partner, Jennifer created a special award. The Elegant April Memorial Award is a three-tier award. The first tier is awarded annually to the winner of the Youth Working Hunter 14–18 world championship; tier two is awarded if that horse-and-rider team also wins Youth Hunter Hack 14–18, and the team can surmount the third tier by winning either Youth Hunter Under Saddle 14–18 or Youth Hunt-Seat Equitation 14–18 at the same show.

This year, Brianna Tuso proved her mount, Hes Worth The Gamble, was worth it when she was crowned world champion in Youth Working Hunter 14–18, winning the Elegant April Memorial Award and a $500 scholarship. The 2006 brown overo gelding is by Reds Jet Set and out of Southern Sissy (QH), and he’s owned by Roberta Tuso of Oak Point, Texas.

“I love it when you see someone new come to the World Show, and you get to meet them and see them win a scholarship,” she said. “For myself, winning this scholarship will help me go to a better college and anything helps. It definitely means a lot.”

Brianna hopes to attend Savannah College of Art and Design to study interior design.

“I like coming to the World Show to see friends I haven’t seen in a while because we come from all over the world,” she said. “The experience itself is awesome, and it’s a very welcoming environment.”

Pretty Versital Memorial Award

The Pretty Versital Memorial Award also commemorates the life of a legendary Paint mare; it’s awarded to the winner of Youth Aged Mares at the Youth World Show.

An outstanding buckskin overo mare owned by Richard and Carmen Burns, Pretty Versital racked up 1,495 halter points along with five world championships and three reserve world championships. Despite her accolades, it was the mare’s kind nature that made her part of the family.

The Burns’ fondest memory of “Pretty” was watching their 5-year-old son in show pen with the big mare towering over his small frame. She is remembered as being a gentle giant who loved children and showed best when one was at the end of the lead shank.

Pretty died in 2003, and the family commissioned a trophy for the Pretty Versital Memorial Award.

This year, Nathan Wright took the world champion title in Youth Aged Mares with Marabella and walked out of the John Justin Arena with the Pretty Versital Memorial bronze in his arms. Marabella is a 2013 sorrel overo mare by RH Stars And Stripes and out of Miss Joe Cools Kid; she is owned by Suzonne Franks of Cisco, Texas.

The great ones are never forgotten and are forever immortalized in record books and memories. One thing is certain: the legacy of Ellie and Pretty lives on in the form of the Elegant April Memorial Award and Pretty Versital Memorial Award at the AjPHA Youth World Championship Show.


[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 to apha.com.]

About APHA

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.