by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Sonya Buckner, from left, Ross Graham and Sharon Kuebker win the amateur world championship in team penning November 8. (Journal photo)
Two veterans and a rookie claimed the top prize November 8 in amateur team penning at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
Sharon Kuebker of Gurnee, Illinois, Ross Graham of Sherman, Illinois, and Sonya Buckner of Magee, Mississippi, penned six head of cattle in 101.688 seconds in the preliminaries and finals for the win.
On an evening of tough cattle, only the world champion and reserve world champion teams were able to get six in the pen in their two runs.
“I went in and was the first one and went a little deep and pulled three out to the side,” Sharon says. “Sonya was able to knock the trash off. Ross went in and got the third one out. We had a little problem at the pen, but they went in and we got our job done.”
Sonya was riding the relative newbie of the bunch, Smartys Dr Delight, a 2005 chestnut stallion by Smart Lil Scoot and out of Dual Delight by Dual Pep. He was bred by Billy Martin of Millsap, Texas, and has $1,639.84 in National Cutting Horse Association earnings.
“I’ve been riding him for a year, so I felt pretty confident in him,” she says. “I really enjoy riding him. He’s a really nice horse, so I’m really good on the line. That’s probably my best aspect, so I felt pretty good about turning for these guys.”
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Ross was on Hickory Molly Mac, a 2000 sorrel mare by Quixote Mac and out of Mollys Hickory by Doc’s Hickory. She was bred by Dr. Robert McGehee of Benbrook, Texas.
“She won the amateur sorting two years ago, and we were in the top 10 a couple of times last year,” Ross says. “She’s a good, solid mare.”
Hickory Molly Mac earned a world championship in amateur ranch sorting in 2009 and claimed a reserve world championship in amateur team penning that same year. She has almost $15,500 in World Show earnings.
Sharon was on Freckles Peppy Doll, a 1995 bay gelding by Parks Peponit and out of Freckles Sally by Freckles Solis. He was bred by James Taylor of Meridianville, Alabama. He’s a three-time world champion in team penning with one reserve world championship and more than $20,000 in World Show earnings to his credit.
Freckles Peppy Doll has the 2008 high point horse in amateur team penning and ranch sorting, and he has been to the World Show every year but one since 2001. In that year, he was injured.
“He tore a deep flexor tendon at a team penning, and he was lame at a walk,” Sharon says. “My vet gave him stem cells. A year after that, he competed at his first show. The same place he got hurt was the place I took him back to. He qualified for the World Show that year, but we didn’t do any good.”
Sharon had the goal of returning “Chipmunk” to world-class form.
“This year, he came back,” she says, pointing to her world championship neck wreath. “He’s leading the nation in amateur sorting and should be up there in all four classes. I’m just happy to have him back.”