November 13, 2010
By Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
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Courtney Ryan and Whiz Jewels
One of the junior reining competitors in the November 13 finals at the 2010 AQHA World Championship Show already has a 2010 trophy – a showmanship bronze.
Whiz Jewels, a reiner who has placed in the top 10 at the National Reining Horse Association Derby, has a second career with her amateur owner, Courtney Ryan of Collinsville, Texas.
“We bought her in 2006 after the World Equestrian Games from Rosanne Sternberg in Aubrey,” Courtney says in an exclusive interview with the Journal. “She was a yearling. Luke (Gagnon) helped me pick her out. That was my first reiner. He owned and showed the mother, so he always had a soft spot for her offspring, so that is how it all began.”
Courtney waited patiently for her new reiner to grow up and in the meantime, the two-time world champion in showmanship couldn’t help showing her new filly a few tricks.
“I started messing with her when she was a 2-year-old and had a little bit of a cold and I could only hand-walk her,” Courtney says. “She’s like a sponge. She picked it up so quick.”
And since the filly knew some showmanship – why not show her?
Courtney started taking “Jewel” to a few shows. The next thing she knew, the 2005 chestnut mare by Topsail Whiz had 85.5 showmanship points and was qualified for the World Show, even with her nontraditional long mane.
In the meantime, Courtney’s fiancé, reining trainer Luke Gagnon, was prepping the mare for serious competition.
“Because she’s a reiner, that’s rigorous training, so I really only showed her at the Reichert, the Redbud and one show in Tennessee,” Courtney says. “I’m the proud owner, and I get to cheer from the sidelines. I get to brush her, and they tolerate me doing showmanship.”
So far, Jewel has $51,786 in NRHA earnings and a fat palomino weanling by Big Chex To Cash with another on the way. And with her reining training and sliding plates, Jewel’s showmanship pattern stops sometimes have a bit of extra emphasis. The first time it happened was a little surprising for both of them, Courtney says.
“You get dirt hitting you in the back,” she says. “We try not to (slide into the stop), but she gets in the pen and she sharpens up. ‘What do you want? What do you want?’ So then she becomes an overachiever.”
Courtney has a goal with her mare.
“One hundred showmanship points and $100,000 in NRHA earnings,” Courtney says with a laugh.