By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse JournalOctober 13, 2013
AQHA Professional Horseman Alfred Hewitt rides Deep Blue Skys to victory October 13 in the 2013 Congress Hunter Classic for owner Dr. April Speyer of Wichita, Kansas. (Larri Jo Starkey photo)
Competition bustled along October 13 at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. From over-fence classes to halter to small fry, the variety showed the versatility of the American Quarter Horse.
Near the end of the day, Dr. April Speyer of Wichita, Kansas, was celebrating as her horse Deep Blue Skys won the open hunter classic with AQHA Professional Horseman Alfred Hewitt aboard.
“What is phenomenal about this horse is he can carry me, a Select amateur, take care of me, forgive me, and then you can put a good rider on him and he can win a class, which is amazing for one horse to be able to do both jobs.,” April told the Journal.
In the classic, all the horses jump a 3-foot course, then the top-15 teams are invited back for a second round. Those riders, many of them in traditional shadbellies to honor the “classic” part of the event, walked a reset course in the Celeste arena.
“You really have to put up two consistent trips,” Alfred said. “(Deep Blue Skys) moved up from third to first by being consistent.”
Deep Blue Skys is a 2005 gray gelding by Skys Blue Boy and out of Rain For The Roses by Nain Rain (TB). He was bred by Ray and Linda Monaco of Prosperity, Pennsylvania, and April bought him two years ago.
“He’s a great athlete,” she said. “He doesn’t get worried. He does his job and then he says, ‘Can I have my feed, please?’”
Alfred catch-rode the horse for April and her trainer, Rick Skelly of Janesville, Wisconsin. Alfred also showed the horse to the win in senior working hunter earlier in the show.
“I’m going to do hunter hack, and then he’s doing senior pleasure driving,” April said.
Meanwhile, over in the Taft Coliseum, open exhibitors showed halter mares all day, culminating in the naming of the grand champion, Elusive Premonition.
“This one’s special to me, this bay mare,” said owner Josh Weakly of Shelbyville, Illinois. “I showed her here last year and was grand in amateur and reserve in open. I won (aged mares) with her at the (AQHA) World (Championship) Show last year. She’s always been one of my favorites I’ve ever had. She shows so good; she’s a beautiful bay color; she’s just tough to beat.”
Elusive Premonition is a 2008 bay mare by Misters Premonition and out of An Elusive Miss by Mr Elusive. She was bred by Laura L. Lehsten of Hygiene, Colorado, and was exhibited by Andy Staton.
“We thought she had gotten better (so we showed her again),” Josh said. “She was only 4 this year and we thought she was a little immature last year and thought this year was going to be her year. I’ll show her next week in amateur, and we’ll have her at the World Show.”
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