by Samantha EckertThe American Quarter Horse Journal
Kathryn Olson and her little bay mare, Shes Bens Mercedes, were crowned the new amateur trail world champions at the AQHA World Championship Show. (Journal photo).
Kathryn Olson of Bennett, Colorado, and Sarah Maggert of Paris, Illinois, battled to the end during the amateur trail finals November 9 at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
After a grueling ride-off, one point separated Kathryn and Sarah. Both women were Intermediate contenders, never placing in the top 10 at a world show before.
But in the end, Kathryn and her little bay mare, Shes Bens Mercedes, were crowned the new amateur trail world champions.
“I can’t even explain it,” Kathryn says. “It’s so amazing. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Both the preliminary and the finals patterns were designed by Tim “the Trail Man” Kimura. This year, the preliminary pattern included many logs and even a mailbox. Tim’s finals pattern had a double gate, T-shaped sidepass and an L-shaped bridge riddled with logs.
“It was so much pattern,” Kathryn says. “When I first saw it, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve never ridden a pattern like this before.’ It was fun. It was such a challenge, but it was great.”
Kathryn and her brother, Gerry, have owned “Lilly” since she was a weanling. The 2004 bay mare is by Ima Benchmark and out of Katie Leaguer by Kay Cee Leaguer.
“We’ve had her, her whole life,” Kathryn says. “We just got her as a starter project. I longe-lined her, and I rode her as a 2-year-old. My brother and I have done everything on her. We’ve made so many mistakes. We just started. She’s our first show horse. We had to learn and unlearn.”
Kathryn said she was surprisingly relaxed going into her ride-off pattern.
Kathryn was also the Intermediate champion in the amateur trail at this year’s World Show.
Get caught up on AQHA showing news at www.aqha.com/showing.
“It’s my second year showing (at the World Show). I didn’t make the finals last year. I was just so happy to make the finals with the quality of horses that there were. It’s amazing.”