by Samantha EckertThe American Quarter Horse Journal
AQHA Professional Horseman Mark Wray of Ord, Nebraska, describes his new AQHA world champion heading horse as comfortable as his favorite pair of jeans.
“A customer before me purchased this horse as a 3-year-old,” Mark says about Show Me A Song Joes, “and sold him as a 6-year-old in Pitzer’s sale, but I’ve been around him probably since the fall of his 3-year-old-year. He’s just one of those horses that’s always fit me. We’ve kind of been our own team. It’s kind of like putting on your favorite pair of pants, basically.”
“Joe” is a 2002 palomino stallion by Mr Joes Song and out of Show Me Gold Money by Mr Sonny Money. Joe is currently owned by Mike Van Egdom of Rock Valley, Iowa. The stallion has placed in the top 10 twice in the senior heading and once in the junior heading at past AQHA World Shows. But this was the first time Mark and Joe have ever won a world title.
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“It feels like something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” Mark says about winning his first world championship. “Jim Brinkman got me started showing horses. This is my ninth World Show.
“I just grew up as a ranch kid,” Mark continues. “We lived 15 miles south of the Pitzer Ranch. I liked to head steers and got me started riding some young horses, just went into the show deal from there. We just kind of stayed after it all this time. Just kept working at it. We run a ranch operation as well, so we kind of stay diversified.”
Mark had a run that earned him a score of 225 in the senior heading finals. Korey Koontz heeled for the new world champion on the final evening of the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show.
“Brad Lund has helped me an awful lot,” Mark says. “I got started as well goin’ to the horse shows, he helped me and went ahead, just basically introduced me to Korey and we have just kind of gone from there.”
Mark walked me through his championship run in the Jim Norick Arena.
“Pretty much I just kind of trust that horse to take care of my short comings,” Mark says. “The cow broke average, he stepped at me a little bit, I’d like him to come out a little bit straighter, but he stepped out. Then my horse stepped right along with him and got on his rear and stepped away. And he really faced. We just made a good solid run. It’s fun to win.”
Show Me A Song Joes wins senior heading title at the 2011 AQHA World Championship Show with AQHA Professional Horseman Mark Wray. Journal photo.