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November 6-21, 2015, Oklahoma City

Amateur Hunter Under Saddle

It Takes a Village and One Really Good Rider

Longtime competitor Courtney Ryan has competed successfully at AQHA world shows for years primarily in showmanship and hunter under saddle. She has three showmanship world championships to her credit. But…

“I’ve never won the world in hunter under saddle,” she says. “Never. I’ve been second, third, fourth, but never a win.”

Until November 9 in the amateur hunter under saddle finals at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show, over a field of 46 entered in the prelims.

What’s more, she did it on her mother’s homebred mare. AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Nancy Sue Ryan of Nocona, Texas, raised Courtney’s talented ride, the 2008 brown mare Fabulicity.

“It’s amazing,” Courtney says in her Journal winning run interview. “My mom bred her and Donny (Recchiuti) knows my mom and everybody involved (with this win). You know it takes a village, and it’s really rewarding on a 3-year-old that’s homegrown.”

Fabulicity is a Ryan family home-bred, through and through. Bred and raised by Nancy Sue, the mare’s sire, Fabuluke (by Luke At Me – Wahoo Baby by Hula Chief (TB)), was bred by Nancy Sue’s mother, Nancy McGregor. Nancy Sue also campaigned his sire, Luke At Me, through his successful show and siring career – he was the 1994 junior hunter under saddle world champion.

“I just love (this mare),” Courtney says of the mare they call “Reese’s Pieces” or “Reese.” “She’s so kind, and she’ll try everything she has, every time. She tries, really hard.”

They’ve shown across the country in 2011, “Las Vegas, California, New York, West Virginia,” Courtney lists, and at several futurities. Courtney and Reece won the National Snaffle Bit Association 3-year-old non-pro hunter under saddle championship.

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“My mom has always loved her from the time she was born,” Courtney says. “She’s always been special.” As a 2-year-old, Reese was top five at the 2010 All American Quarter Horse Congress Hunter Under Saddle Masters.

Reese’s other nickname is "Zenyatta," “because sometimes she’ll dance a little,” Courtney explains. “But she always performs, you know. She’ll get a little jig on, and then go down the chute and give it all she’s got.”

Their prep for the finals was simple, “just like we do at home,” Courtney says. “Donny will kind of clean her up and I get on and float her around and kept it easy and relaxed.”

As for her future? The show pen, of course, and Courtney says her mom probably “can’t wait to breed her. She’s pretty special. Mom raised her and her (dam) has passed away. I think she’s got a permanent residence at Show Stop Farm.”

One more thing made this win pretty special for Courtney: “My friend, Ali Kasten, passed away this year and it was really special…,” she broke off, smiled, and added, “I felt like she had something to do with (the win).”

2011 amateur hunter under saddle world champions Courtney Ryan and Fabulicity

Courtney Ryan and Fabulicity are the 2011 amateur hunter under saddle world champions.(Journal photo)