by Larri Jo StarkeyThe American Quarter Horse Journal
On November 17, 11 senior horses circled the Jim Norick Arena at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show, vying for the senior pleasure driving title.
Their drivers held the lines with confidence as the horses zoomed the edge of the arena, feathers and sequins fluttering on hats.
Totally Ironic, a gray gelding by Iron Enterprise and out of Billy McGee (TB) by Len McGee, claimed the world championship with AQHA Professional Horseman Kevin Dukes in the cart.
AQHA Professional Horseman Karen Graham of Cave Creek, Arizona, close friend of owner Cathy Frank of Phoenix, sponsored the class and was all smiles as she and Kevin talked in their exclusive Journal interview about the horse, their friendship and the master plan that put Totally Ironic in the gold.
How was the drive today?Kevin: He was right on today. Went in there and just never missed a beat, had his ears up and just did his job.
What’s he like at home?Kevin: He’s pretty laid back. We kind of make fun of him, he’s so laid back. He seems a little slow sometimes, but he’s a super nice fellow. Easy to be around.
Karen, you showed this horse?Karen: I showed him for three years, and then we decided we wanted to make him a driving horse, so I sent him to my driving trainer, Kevin.Kevin: Karen masterminded all this. We have a couple of key people who are missing, which is the owner, Cathy, Stephanie Lynn, and my wife, Melissa. She’s my partner in training and everything else. It takes a village to get me in the pen.
What was the master plan?Karen: To win the worldKevin: Yeah, that’s what she said when she sent him to me. “All you have to do, Kevin, is win the world.Karen: Just win and get me a gold trophy, that’s it. Kevin, with a laugh: It’s that simple.Karen: Yeah, I send him and it happens.
What makes this horse a world champion?Karen: He’s so good-minded.Kevin: He’s pretty and he’s a good mover.Karen: He’s a beautiful mover. And he’s so good with his ears, and he’s just happy.Kevin: Just a kind, good-minded honest horse.
So is he a representation of the best of the American Quarter Horse?Kevin: Absolutely!Karen: 100 percent
Are you going to be back next year to defend the title?Karen: Absolutely!Kevin: We’re going to crack him in the butt and burn rubber – that’s all we do.Karen: Cathy will be right with us. She’ll be doing the amateur, too.
Karen, what was it like to have sponsored the class?Karen: You know, it was actually coincidental. A lot of the classes were taken, and when we saw the senior pleasure driving, I jokingly said, well let’s sponsor it and maybe we’ll win it. So it worked out fine. I was teasing and saying I was only going to give the gold trophy to Kevin, so it worked out well.
AQHA Professional Horseman Kevin T. Dukes piloted Totally Ironic to the win in senior pleasure driving at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show. (Journal photo)