by Tara ChristiansenThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Emilie McClanahan of Edmond, Oklahoma, is in love.
“I got him four years ago,” Emilie says of her 2003 sorrel gelding, Cool Man Jazz. “He’s the love of my life.
“We clicked right off the bat because he has such a big personality,” she continues. “He’s such a lover – he’ll just love on me all day long. When he does a good job and I give him a good pat, he knows it.”
And you can be certain that the son of Do You Have A Minute and out of Sonnys Cool Jazz by Sonnys Hot Jazz got a hearty pat November 11.
“It’s funny because my best rides are the ones (where) I’m just loving on him the whole time before we go in,” Emilie explains.
Whatever it was, the pats, the fact that hunter hack is the duo’s favorite class or maybe the stars had just aligned – Emilie and Cool Man Jazz shined in the amateur hunter hack finals at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
“Hunter hack is our favorite class,” Emilie says, speaking for Cool Man Jazz, who was bred by Emilie’s trainer, Jerry Erickson of Sanger, Texas. “We won it at the (All American Quarter Horse) Congress last year.
“This week, we’ve been really consistent, so I just went in and we jumped our two jumps, and it felt great. We went in for the flat, and he was awesome on the rail – the best he’s ever been on the rail.”
When Emilie and Cool Man Jazz were left standing in the center of the Jim Norick Arena, the feeling that overwhelmed her was nothing short of surreal, she says.
“It didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t feel real. I was just praying for them to call my number last. I was shaking uncontrollably.”
But it’s more than understandable that Emilie was consumed with emotion by the win.
“It’s my first world championship,” she says with a smile.
Emilie intends to keep right on trucking along with Cool Man Jazz and shoot for more AQHA world championships. However, Emilie has some other goals in mind for herself in particular.
A junior at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Emilie is studying strategic communications and hopes to work for a nonprofit organization. She also is a member of the ground crew for the Oklahoma State Spirit Riders.
“There are two riders that they pick, and they’re seniors. So you have to be a senior to be a rider. And there’s a ground crew as well, and this is my second year on the ground crew,” she explains.
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“My dream when I was a little kid was to ride ‘Bullet,’” Emilie says, referring to the Oklahoma City spirit horse. “To be on the team is remarkable. I love it. It couldn’t be better.”
As much as she’s loving her junior year, Emilie hopes she can look forward to ride Bullet onto the field at an Oklahoma State football game.
“It’s just one more year to get to reach that goal!”
Emilie has a long line of people to thank who have been instrumental in helping her reach her goals.
“(I have to thank) my Lord: without him this would not be possible whatsoever,” Emilie starts. “My parents, (Rich and Rene): they have stood by me the whole entire time and they’re just incredible.
“My trainer, Jerry Erickson: He’s been so great, and he knows the potential that both me and Cool Man have, and he just pushes for that potential each and every time we ride and it pays off. And every single person who came to support me today! I have such a big fan club and it’s so awesome to have them. I’m so thankful for each one of them.”
With that, Emilie laughs and remembers one more person to thank.
“Meghan O’Malley,” she adds. “I want to thank her because (even though) she didn’t show up, I told her that when I win I’m going to thank her for her ‘good luck’ in my (Journal Winning Run) interview.”
When it comes down to it, Emilie is also grateful for the excellent horse and rider pairs that she faced off against at the 2011 World Show.
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“(I have to thank) all of my competitors, too, because they all lay out such wonderful rides and it all makes us the best that we can possibly be. Without each one of them, it wouldn’t be possible either.”
For how young she is in comparison to a lot of her competitors (this was Emilie’s first year to compete as an amateur), she offers some sage insight:
“It’s not really about what trophies we win, but it’s about ‘the great ride’ and just going out there and having fun, because that’s what we’re all here to do.”
The rail work of the amateur hunter hack finals was Cool Man Jazz's best yet, says owner and exhibitor Emilie McClanahan of Edmond, Oklahoma. The duo worked their way right to the top and were crowned the world champions in the event at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show. (Journal photo).