Ringside With Kara

AQHA exhibitor and blogger Kara Oldford reports from the IKI Summer Spectacular in Du Quoin, Illinois.

By Kara Oldford
The American Quarter Horse Journal
June 27, 2013

Kara Oldford aboard Willy Be Lazy, photo courtesy of Studio 247 Photography

Her AQHA marketing internship complete, former AQHA world champion and all-around high-point winner Kara Oldford is back in the saddle. Kara is shown here competing in amateur hunt seat equitation aboard Willy Be Invited at the IKI Summer Spectacular. (Photo courtesy of Studio 247 Photography)

Less than two months after the conclusion of my AQHA marketing internship, I find myself once again writing for AQHA. However, instead of writing from my cubicle within AQHA Headquarters, I get to write from the comfort of my own home about my adventures from a different side of the American Quarter Horse!

After a short hiatus from showing in order to complete my internship, where I was working from a completely different aspect of AQHA, I was reunited with my horse and trainer, AQHA Professional Horseman Michael Colvin of Snellville, Georgia. Our travels took us to Du Quoin, Illinois, for the June 19-23 IKI Summer Spectacular Circuit.

The lively show was a typical fun Mark Harrell-produced horse show, with breakfast nearly every morning and many events at night, including a tiki bar, hot dogs, pasta and much more. My personal favorite was the cinnamon rolls (yes, provided by the one and only Sweet Shop!).

The show hosted top trainers from all over the country and boasted large classes, with some six-point open classes and many three-point youth and amateur events. What more can you ask for besides (mostly) great weather, big classes and free stuff?

During the show, I was able to catch up with fellow amateur exhibitor Jessica Baird-Whitehead, also the owner of Studio 247 Photography. After seeing some of her fabulous work, I was interested in hearing how her business merges her passions for photography and horses.

Jessica juggled a busy show schedule while taking many private sessions (and the candids that accompany this blog). Not exclusively an equine photographer, Jessica does enjoy getting to take her business on the road with her show schedule.

“The thing that is most different about equine sessions is the fact that I am dealing with an animal that I cannot really 'tell' what to do. I can't tell the horse to wrap his neck down toward his owner. And the most time-consuming part: getting ears up!" Jessica says. "Shooting horses can be a little tricky, but with enough time and effort, they often present some of the most rewarding images.”

Wanting to incorporate her own horse into her business, Jessica appropriately named her business Studio 247 Photography, since 247 is her favorite back number at the shows. She most enjoys interacting with the different people and says she has experienced tremendous growth since opening in June 2011.

They say if you love what you do, you'll never have to work a day in your life. It seems that Jessica really has that figured out! While I loved my time at AQHA, I'm still searching for that perfect balance between horses and a career. If only showing could be a career!

High-point winners from the IKI Summer Spectacular Circuit (provided by Mark Harrell Horse Shows) were:

  • Novice amateurDoin It Double (2002 sorrel gelding,  Zippo Can Do-Debbie Bar Time by Scotch Bar Time; bred by Judith and Ewell C. Phillips Jr. of Sparta, Tennessee), owned and shown by Kelleigh De Monbrun of Oakford, Illinois
  • Select amateurOut For Chocolate (2005 brown mare, One Hot Chocolate-Impulsive Revenue by A Sudden Impulse; bred by Bruce and Cindy Joslyn of Winona, Minnesota), owned and shown by Barbara Melby Knudsen of Owasso, Oklahoma
  • AmateurGota Lota Rain (2005 bay gelding, Gota Lota Potential-Rhapsody In The Rain by Zippin Bonanza Flash; bred by Richard and Betty Jo Carr of Bremen, Indiana; owned by Deborah Hearst), shown by Angela Wade of Wellington, Florida
  • 13-&-Under YouthVested Sheik (2002 sorrel gelding, Zippos Sheik-Vested Vixen by The Invester; bred by Kenneth Masterson of Somerville, Tennessee), owned and shown by Kameron Thorn of Evansville, Indiana
  • 14-18 YouthZippos Kat Man Do (2000 chestnut gelding, Zippo Can Do-Opies Cute Cat by Opie General; bred by Jennifer and Craig Stoenner of Eagle, Idaho), owned and shown by Bailey Anderson of Millsap, Texas
  • OpenA Blazing Reflection (2008 bay gelding, Blazing Hot-Britney Pine by Vested Pine; bred by Camille Thompson of Bentonville, Arkansas), shown by AQHA Professional Horseman Terry Cross for owner Alyssa Hinchman of Cypress, Texas

View complete results from the IKI Summer Spectacular Circuit www.markharrellhorseshows.com/summerrun.

Youth competitor Hannah Rasnake of Stilesville, Indiana, takes time to pose with her bay gelding Hot Time To Zip for Studio 247 Photography. View more photos by Studio 247 Photography from the IKI Summer Spectacular.

ABOUT OUR BLOGGER: Kara Oldford of Croswell, Michigan, is no stranger to the AQHA winners circle. Knocking out year-end high-point awards in youth hunt seat equitation, showmanship and horsemanship in 2008 with the late Im Shy But Deluxe, Kara and "Travis" earned the 2008 AQHA youth all-around high-point title. Amid many more world show finishes and year-end awards, Kara and Im Shy But Deluxe worked their way to the 2010 amateur showmanship world championship. The former AQHA marketing intern now competes with Willy Be Lazy.