Susan Johns of Paradise Valley, Arizona, and Heza Radical Zip win the 2011 Select world championship in horsemanship. Journal photo.
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by Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Susan Johns of Paradise Valley, Arizona, faced a tough pattern and a tough field of competitors coming into the August 31 horsemanship finals at the 2011 Adequan Select World Championship Show.
“(With) the 15 finalists that were in there, it was tough just making it back,” she told the Journal. “I was blessed to be in the finals.
“On the pattern, it had the extended trot and then the slow trot and then extended trot, and without having any markers in the arena, it was personal judgment as to where you would execute the transitions. With a start cone and an end cone, it was left to the rider’s discretion as to where your circles should be and everything else.”
Fourteenth in the go, Susan was riding Heza Radical Zip, a 2005 gelding by Radical Rodder and out of Sonnys Last Zip by Zippo Jack Bar.
“He’s exactly what you see (in his expression), easy-going, really easy to ride,” Susan said. “He’s so willing; he wants to do his job. He goes out and does his thing with no major preparation. He likes a little bit – like the night before, pattern practice, stops, turns – but before (the class), just a little bit. You don’t want to overpractice with him, he’s right there. It was fun.”
The performance earned the pair two firsts and a second on the judges’ cards, for a combined work total of 303 and the Select world championship.
“It was really special because we’ve owned this horse since he was 2,” Susan said. “(AQHA Professional Horsemen) Jim and Deanna Searles had put everything on him, and he was just really, really fun to ride today. He’s got such a fun personality; it was special.”
Immediately after the class, Susan didn’t have much time to celebrate – she needed to stay mentally ready for the western riding finals, which she says is actually Heza Radical Zip’s favorite class. They finished in the top 10.
Susan has been showing since youth, and is a lifetime AQHA member currently serving on the youth committee. Her sons, Jeff and Trevor, also show, as does her sister, Katherine Tobin (Kathy finished fifth in the western riding).
“I guess the No. 1 reason (I show Select) is that I share my horses with my son (Jeff), and in order for both of us to compete at a world level, I have to show here at the Select so my son can show the horses (at the AQHA World Championship Show) in November. It’s fun to share.
“(Showing horses) is something you can do together…. Having my sister compete and show, we see each other more at horse shows and traveling together doing the shows than we see each other at home. It’s fun to spend that time with family. And at least one of my sons usually gets to come watch and support. This time it was my son, Jeff.”
Susan was the Farnam Select All-Around Amateur at the 2009 Adequan Select World.
“I’ve won the western riding before, I’ve won the trail before, I’m really excited to have won the horsemanship.... I treasure every win, but this was really fun especially because it’s a young horse … it makes it a little more special having gotten him at such a young age.”
Susan has a break in showing until September 3, when she shows A Fancy Fearles in the 3-year-old mares: “So I get a few days to catch up on some sleep that I haven’t had!”