by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Whitney Walquist Vicars and Dress This
As she entered the Jim Norick Coliseum at the 2010 AQHA World Championship Show for the horsemanship finals, Whitney Walquist Vicars was thinking about one little lead change.
The challenging pattern only called for one lead change, a right-to-left one right in front of the judges’ eyes, and that’s the one Whitney has trouble with on Dress This, her 2004 bay gelding.
“It seems like all year we’ve had patterns with right to left lead changes, and you’d think I’d have it down by now, but it was still worrisome spot,” she said. “But it worked out tonight.”
It did. Here’s how the rest of the pattern went, from Whitney’s point of view.
“We had to do an extended trot to a slow jog. I thought my horse slowed down really nicely for me. Another extended trot. A stop. (I was) happy with the stop. A spin and a half to the right – I was happy with that. Lope out, then a square corner. Lope a circle to the right, change leads. Moderate speed circle to the left, break to the walk, stop, one and a fourth spin to the left and walk out.”
That worrisome lead change? No problem. That’s in part due to “Cowboy,” the 2009 AQHA world champion in showmanship. Even the lengthy rail work, where the judges called for the exhibitors to drop their stirrups and extend the trot for a couple of laps around the arena, didn’t worry Whitney.
“My horse has a really smooth extended trot, and so I really love to try to show that off,” Whitney said. “My horse did feel a little tense on the rail work tonight, so the whole time was a little tense, but he was good for me. He tries so hard for me. He learns really quickly. We’ve put some new events on him this year. He’s just a big goofball. He just wants to put his head in your lap. He’s definitely a goof. He keeps us laughing a lot of the time.”
Whitney teared up a bit talking about Cowboy.
“This is going to be my last show with him,” she said. “I’m a trainer’s kid, so we sell my horses quite often. And so we’re selling him, but this is a great way to finish our career together. (God) has blessed me beyond measure in life in general and in the show pen, and I’m so thankful for that.”