by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHA Professional Horseman Lainie DeBoer has won two world championships aboard Only Royal Blue. Now it’s time to take the horse home and get to know him.
On November 15, Lainie rode the horse owned by Tim Roper of Hobart, Indiana, to the title in junior hunter hack at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
“We just got him not too long ago,” Lainie says in an exclusive interview with the Journal. “This is the first time I’ve done the hunter hack on him. This is our first horse show. He won the junior (working) hunter the other day. I really didn’t have many expectations going into this, because I don’t know what he’s like on the flat, how to prepare him, so we took a deep breath after the junior and saw where he was at, and he was just fantastic today. He couldn’t have been better.”
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“Spider” is destined to be an amateur ride for Samantha Roper. He’s a 2006 gray gelding by Only Blue Sky and out of Perfectly Riva by the Thoroughbred stallion Encoriva. He was bred by Linda Ketter of Parker, Colorado, who gave the horse his barn name.
“The girl who worked on him before did an amazing job, Rebecca Francis from Colorado,” Lainie says. “She did all the work.”
Because Lainie didn’t know the gray gelding well, she was stressing about the world championship finals and trying to overprepare.
“I panicked a little bit, I have to say,” she says. “My assistant, Brad Foss, saved me, because I probably wanted to do too much. I wanted to get him out one more time because I didn’t know where his energy was at, but he was looking tired. We did very little with him. I probably rode him for 10 minutes this morning. I was panicked, because 10 minutes to walk into the World Show ring on a 5-year-old is a little daunting.
“(Brad) just kept telling me, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, he’s relaxed, he’s fine, he’s eating hay. He seems good. You’re fine. Just get on and go and enjoy. You’re already a world champion.’ Thank God. I think I would have overthought it.”
Confidence back, Lainie went into the ring and was the unanimous choice of the five judges.
“Hopefully, he’s going to be in our program for a long, long time, and Samantha’s going to start him in the amateurs, and this is just a great start for her,” Lainie says. “We’re just going to take him home and get to know him now. I can’t imagine what a cool start we had so far. I’m blessed.”
Only Royal Blue and AQHA Professional Horseman take the second jump in hunter hack November 15. (Journal photo)